04/28/2016 11:26AM

Uncle Lino takes aim at first stakes win

Barbara D. Livingston
With a strong performance Saturday in the California Chrome Stakes, Uncle Lino might be pointed to the Preakness.

CYPRESS, Calif. – Four races into his 3-year-old campaign, Uncle Lino has yet to achieve objectives set by trainer Gary Sherlock.

“Before the year is out, I will win a graded stakes with him,” Sherlock said.

A more immediate goal is an initial stakes win, which Uncle Lino can achieve in Saturday’s first running of the $150,000 California Chrome Stakes for 3-year-olds at Los Alamitos.

:: Los Alamitos: Buy PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

The Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 21 is in the back of Sherlock’s mind for Uncle Lino.

“It’s a consideration,” Sherlock said. “He’d have to do everything right.”

Owned by Tom Mansor, Purple Shamrock Racing, and Sherlock, Uncle Lino was third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 9, finishing behind Exaggerator and Mor Spirit. They are two leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7.


With them in Kentucky, Uncle Lino will be a strong favorite in the California Chrome Stakes, which is run at 1 1/16 miles.

“He’s the best horse,” Sherlock said. “But you never know about young horses coming up and getting better.”

The field of nine lacks a stakes winner. Two other runners have placed in graded stakes. Let’s Meet in Rio was second in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in January. One More Round, a maiden after four starts, was second in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 16.


Uncle Lino, by Uncle Mo

Last 3 Beyers: 90-84-90

◗ The California Chrome Stakes will be Uncle Lino’s fourth consecutive start in a stakes. He was second in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita in February in his stakes debut and fourth in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 12.

◗ Sherlock said that Uncle Lino recovered rapidly from his loss by 8 1/2 lengths in the Santa Anita Derby, which was run on a sealed and sloppy track.

“He bounced back right away,” he said. “Mentally, I’ve noticed that he’s starting to mature a little bit. He’s not on the go all the time.”

Malibu Sunset, by Bernardini

Beyers: 83-91

◗ Malibu Sunset is unbeaten in two starts, winning a maiden race for trainer Wayne Catalano at Fair Grounds in January and an optional claimer at a mile at Santa Anita on Feb. 28 for trainer Bob Baffert.

◗ Baffert said on Thursday that Malibu Sunset could run in the $500,000 Woody Stephens Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs on June 11, depending on Saturday’s result.

“I don’t know if one turn will be better for him,” Baffert said. “I thought it would be good to try this. If he does well, it opens up other options.”

◗ Owned by Gary and Mary West, Malibu Sunset is likely to race near the front.

Mishegas, by Include

Last 3 Beyers: 84-70-69

◗ The most experienced runner in the field, Mishegas won an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on March 27 in his ninth start. The gelding closed from off the pace to take the lead in the final furlong.

◗ Mishegas is trained by Art Sherman, who trains California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year.