01/10/2015 7:29PM

Calculator kicks off 3-year-old season with dominating win in Sham

Benoit Photo
Calculator wins the Sham Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths Saturday at Santa Anita Park.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Calculator hadn’t run since September, his trainer warned he wasn’t fully cranked up for his comeback Saturday in the Sham Stakes, and Calculator was fanned five paths wide on the first turn and three paths wide on the far turn. Add all that up, using an abacus, your fingers, or a calculator, and it often results in a loss, but Calculator overcame it all while rolling to a dominating 4 1/4-length victory at Santa Anita.

A maiden entering the race, Calculator ($3.20) was heavily favored despite the layoff, owing to his outstanding 2-year-old form, having twice finished second in Grade 1 races to American Pharoah. And while the field for the Sham – a Grade 3, $100,750 race – might not prove to be the strongest prep this spring for 3-year-olds, the manner in which Calculator performed was exemplary.

“I wasn’t expecting that, honestly,” said his trainer, Peter Miller, who also finished second with Rock Shandy and fourth with St. Joe Bay. “I was hoping he was good enough to win, but the water gets deeper from here on out, so we’re going to have to step up our game and move forward off this one.”

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

Calculator completed one mile on the fast main track in 1:34.88. The track was much faster than par owing to it being sealed, then lightly harrowed before the races because of expected rain. The rain was light much of the day, was a bit stronger just prior to the Sham, then stopped when the race ended. The track never took on much water.

The Sham win was worth 10 points toward a berth in the May 2 Kentucky Derby on the point system used by Churchill Downs to determine the Derby field if more than the maximum 20 horses enter.

Rock Shandy, making his first start on dirt after three grass races, was no match for his stablemate but finished 4 1/4 lengths clear of third-place Pioneerof the West, who finished a half-length in front of St. Joe Bay.

Papacoolpapacool was fifth and was followed, in order, by Hero Ten All, Unblunted, and Rockinatten.

Calculator raced four times at age 2. After a pair of starts against maidens, he was second to American Pharoah in both the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes. In the FrontRunner, he finished in front of Texas Red, who subsequently won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Calculator missed the Breeders’ Cup with a foot bruise suffered the day before the race. He then was pointed to the Los Alamitos Futurity but missed that because of illness. He only had three works after missing training time in December. Miller figured he wasn’t going to be at his best just yet.

“You’re always guessing as trainers,” he said. “The horse ran really well.”

Calculator started from post 7 in the eight-horse field and found himself fanned wide heading into the first turn. Miller said he thought jockey Elvis Trujillo did a good job trying to drop in a couple lanes as the runners moved around the first turn.

“I was very worried,” Miller said. “He adjusted.”

Miller trains Calculator, a son of the sprinter In Summation, for owner Richard Pell, who bought Calculator last April at Ocala for $132,000.