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ARCADIA, CA – Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Gunmetal Gray put forth a furious effort in the stretch run on Saturday, blowing past his six rivals under a perfectly-timed ride to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.
Breaking from post 6 under Mike Smith at 7/2 odds, Gunmetal Gray was allowed to relax and settle at the rear as he entered the first turn, while Savagery blitzed up front through opening fractions of :23.46 and :46.95. After stalking closely in second down the backstretch, Much Better took command heading into the far turn and began to draw off. Shortly after straightening for home, however, Much Better appeared to hit a wall and began dropping off, all the while Gunmetal Gray was finding his best strides. Launching himself down the middle of the lane with gusto, Gunmetal Gray shot past Much Better and Sueno to win the 8-furlong event by 1 length in a final time of 1:38.96 over the fast main track.
“I didn’t expect to be that far back,” Smith said of his early positioning. “I got taken off my game plan a little bit. Coliseum kind of slipped and broke to the right. He really hit me in behind and set me farther back than I wanted to be. He got up, got back into the race somewhat, and got into a nice, comfortable stride. I figured from that point that he would run well, we just had to be good enough to catch them, and he was.”
Sueno’s valiant effort, though not strong enough to win, was still able to propel him past Much Better to secure second by 3/4 of a length. Gray Magician necked out Easy Shot for fourth, while the race’s 3/5 heavy favorite Coliseum was a disappointing sixth after hitting his stall at the break and then running wide throughout. Savagery completed the order of finish.
The Sham is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Gunmetal Gray earned 10 points for the win, with Sueno receiving 4 for second, Much Better 2 for third, and Gray Magician 1 for fourth.
Gunmetal Gray’s win was his first since breaking his maiden at Del Mar on August 22 and improved his record to 5-2-1-0. The 3-year-old son of Exchange Rate increased his career earnings to $217,200 for co-owners Hollendorfer, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Pearl Racing.
“Mike knew we wouldn’t be near the lead and we were hoping to get some pace to run at,” Hollendorfer said. “Mike sat back, bided his time, and he ran them down. We came back here after the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile, where he finished fifth) and he’s really trained well the past two months.”
Gunmetal Gray returned $9.40 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.40 to show. Sueno brought back $9.60 to place and $5.20 to show, while Much Better paid $5 to show.
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