Colonel John Uses Slow Pace to Hand El Gato Malo First Loss in Sham Stakes at Santa Anita
by Kenneth Strong, Chief Horse Handicapper at Predictem.com
Mar. 1, 2008 Colonel John got the best of the formerly undefeated El Gato Malo in the 8th running of the $200,000 Sham Stakes-G3 at Santa Anita on Saturday, but El Gato Malo probably ran the better race.
Under Garret Gomez, Colonel John pressed outside brutally slow fractions of 24.97, 50.04, 1:14.35 and 1:38.27 before taking a short lead from pacesetter Victory Pete into the stretch. El Gato Malo got stuck stalking the pacesetters under a reasonable hold along the inside, waited very briefly on the turn for home and finally swung wide to come charging down the stretch after the eventual winner.
Colonel John had shaken off Victory Pete by mid stretch, and to his credit he did dig in to hold off the favorite late, but El Gato Malo was visually impressive trying everything in his power to catch the winner. In a big field like the one expected for the Kentucky Derby, with a good pace and a better ride, wed give El Gato Malo the edge.
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At the wire Colonel John had El Gato Malo by half a length. Victory Pete held for third, three lengths further back and a length in front of fourth place finisher Reflect Times. The final time for the mile and an eighth over a track listed as fast was 1:50.15.
Colonel John, a 3-year-old colt by Tiznow-Sweet Damsel by Turkoman, certainly has the pedigree to get the distance on Derby Day, but he will have to run faster. He was given a Beyer Speed Figure of 86 for the victory and paid $5 to win as the second choice in the 5-horse field.
Trained by Harty Eoin for WinStar Farm, Colonel John increased his lifetime earnings to $375,300 from a record of 3-2-0 in five starts including a win in the Real Quiet Stakes and a second-place finish in his previous start, the Dec. 22 Cash Call Futurity-G1, both at Hollywood Park.
El Gato Malo came into the Sham with a perfect 3-for-3 record including wins in the Goldrush Stakes at Golden Gate as a 2-year-old and the San Rafael Stakes-G3 at Santa Anita on January 12 as a 3-year-old.
Theres a good chance the pair could meet again in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby On April 5, but both might have to turn it up a notch if San Vicente-G2 winner Georgie Boy shows up.
Sham Stakes Results and Payoffs
March 1, 2008 - Race 7 Santa Anita
6 Colonel John $5.00 $2.40 $2.10
1 El Gato Malo $2.20 $2.10
5 Victory Pete $2.60
$1 Exacta 6-1 paid $3.90
$1 Trifecta 6-1-5 paid $15.10