A very game Reincarnate holds off stablemate Newgate to take the Sham (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.— Although he was pressed through swift fractions to the top of the lane, longshot Reincarnate, one of three Bob Baffert entrants, was smooth as silk as he fended off all challengers to prevail by a neck in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Reincarnate got a flat mile in 1:35.87 and stamped himself a bona fide Kentucky Derby hopeful as he provided Baffert with his record ninth Sham Stakes win.
A gate to wire one-mile maiden winner Nov. 25 at Del Mar, Reincarnate was pressed through splits of 22.28, 45.57, 1:09.55 and 1:22.76 by highly regarded second choice Spun Intended, who dropped out of contention leaving the quarter pole and was pulled up a furlong out by Mike Smith.
Easily the biggest price of the Baffert threesome at 16-1, Reincarnate, who broke his maiden in his fourth start, paid $35.00, $9.00 and $3.60.
“It looks like this horse is getting better with every race, the first couple of starts, he was a little green,” said Hernandez, who bagged his third win on the day and his meet-leading sixth stakes win. “Today, he broke really sharp and actually he surprised me. I had come up with a plan to stay behind the speed, make him relax and make one move, but when the gate opened, plans changed.
“I saw myself in front, so I just let him run. I felt the fractions were like a hard pace, but he was really comfortable. He’s a really big horse, he has a big stride…He kind of waited for the other horses, but he’s still learning how to run. When he got the lead, he tried to wait for company, but when he saw the other horse (runner-up Newgate) come to me, he saw him and fought back.”
A $775,000 Keeneland September Yearling, Reincarnate, who is by Good Magic out of the Scat Daddy mare Allanah, is owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, et al. With the Sham winner’s take of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $142,400.
“He’s the kind of horse that can run all day long,” said Baffert. “He broke great and Juan just kind of let him run away from there. They were all on their own, I didn’t give anybody any instructions. I was watching Johnny (Velazquez, aboard third place finisher and heavy favorite National Treasure) and he was in tight the whole way…I think (Reincarnate) showed that distance is not going to be a problem for him once he (gets) the lead. I was surprised he that easy lead and he just kept going.”
Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Newgate was last early and finished very well to be second by three quarters of a length over National Treasure. Off at 5-1, Newgate paid $5.20 and $2.60.
With Velazquez taking off the winner in favor of 3-5 post time favorite National Treasure, he too, gave a good account of himself, finishing 23 lengths in front of turf specialist Packs a Wahlop while returning $2.10 to show.
Live racing returns on Friday with first post time for a nine-race card at 12:30 p.m.