01/02/2013 4:47PM

Santa Anita: Dry Summer will test his versatility in Sham Stakes

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Tom Keyser
Oak Tree Juvenile Turf winner Dry Summer will give dirt a try in the Sham Stakes on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Four months have gone by since Dry Summer won the only stakes of his career, the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf at Del Mar on Sept. 5.

He will be largely ignored by bettors when he starts in Saturday’s $100,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita, the first stakes of the year in the build-up to the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6.

Despite the colt’s autumn losses – an eighth in the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes on dirt Sept. 29 and an 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 3 – trainer Jeff Mullins has a measure of optimism about Dry Summer’s chances in the Sham Stakes, which is run over a mile.

He is basing his hopes on Dry Summer’s pattern of steady workouts at Santa Anita since late November, including six furlongs in 1:13.20 last Saturday, and a surface that does not seem as favorable to front-runners as it did in the autumn.

“He’s been working well on this track,” Mullins said. “The only race he had [over the track] was at the start of the autumn meeting. No one was closing. It’s better, and he likes it if it’s wet.”

Wet conditions are not expected Saturday – dry weather is forecast – but there should be a pace for Dry Summer to follow if he’s good enough. By Any Given Saturday, Dry Summer is owned by Michael House and Sam Britt.

The field of six in the Sham is led by Goldencents, who won the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes in Louisiana on Nov. 17. Prior to that, Goldencents was second to eventual BC Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.

Goldencents has speed and could face a threat from Manando, a recent maiden race winner trained by Bob Baffert. Den’s Legacy, another Baffert-trained runner, drew the rail. Den’s Legacy was third in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 15.

If Dry Summer runs well in the Sham, Mullins would avoid a problem. He already had Gabriel Charles scheduled for turf stakes for 3-year-olds in coming months. Last Saturday, Gabriel Charles finished second in the Eddie Logan Stakes, which was transferred to the main track because of wet conditions.

“I think Gabriel will be a turf horse,” Mullins said.

Saturday, Dry Summer can show that he is a dirt horse.