2023 Sham Stakes & Jerome Stakes Recap

Two pace-setting colts ran themselves into the Kentucky Derby picture at the weekend, both gaining their first success at stakes level. Reincarnate sprang a shock in the G3 2023 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Sunday, giving trainer Bob Baffert his ninth win in the race, while 24 hours earlier Lugan Knight had shown great tenacity to prevail after a stirring stretch duel in the ungraded Jerome at Aqueduct.

Sham Stakes

G3, $100,000, 1m dirt, 3yo, Santa Anita, Sunday

Reincarnate leads Baffert trifecta

Expectation and surprise were combined in the outcome of the Sham, the feature at Santa Anita on Sunday, as 16-1 longshot Reincarnate led home barnmates Newgate and National Treasure to give trainer Bob Baffert his ninth victory in the race and his fourth in a row.

The grey son of Good Magic, graduating from a maiden win, broke on top under Juan Hernandez and was on the lead throughout, showing a very willing attitude through the stretch to turn back the persistent challenge of Newgate and get the job done by a neck. The 3-5 favourite National Treasure never seemed on his game but rallied late for third, beaten another three-quarters of a length.

Spun Intended, who pressed the pace for the first half-mile, pulled up in the stretch and was vanned off. His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. The field was reduced to five following the scratch of Speed Boat Beach, yet another Baffert trainee.

“Reincarnate wants a mile-eighth already, he’s a stayer,” said Baffert. “We always talk about him being my Belmont horse.”

Reincarnate’s next major target is likely to be the G1 Santa Anita Derby over a mile-eighth on April 8. None of the first three home in the Sham earned ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ points owing to Baffert’s suspension from Churchill Downs.

2023 Sham Stakes Results

1. Reincarnate$35.00$9.00$3.60
2. Newgate     $5.20$2.60
3. National Treasure $2.10

Winning time: 1m 35.87s

Jerome Stakes

Ungraded, $150,000, 1m dirt, 3yo, Aqueduct, Saturday

The other Derby prep at the weekend also fell to a front-runner, with Lugan Knight making practically every yard in what turned out to be a two-horse race for the Jerome at Aqueduct on Saturday, taking the ten ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ points on offer in the process.

On his first start in stakes company, the 7-2 third-choice set no more than regulation fractions under Dylan Davis and was followed all the way around by 6-5 favourite Arctic Arrogance. The pair went nose-to-nose in the stretch but Lugan Knight pulled out more under a strong drive to score by a half-length. Their superiority in this field was illustrated by the seven-length gap back to General Banker in third.

“Dylan took charge of the situation and that made the difference,” said trainer Michael McCarthy. “It was great to see him get in a dogfight and repel the runner-up.”

Lugan Knight, a son of Goldencents, will now bid to reinforce his Kentucky Derby credentials in the G3 Gotham over the same course and distance on March 4. His pedigree brings doubts about his suitability for the ten-furlong Derby route but his willingness is not in question.

2023 Jerome Stakes Results

1. Lugan Knight$9.10$3.90$2.70
2. Arctic Arrogance$2.70$2.20
3. General Banker$3.70

Winning time: 1m 37.77s

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