ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Calculator won the $100,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds by 4 1/4 lengths Saturday at Santa Anita, giving the colt his first career victory in five tries.
Ridden by Elvis Trujillo, Calculator ran a mile in 1:34.88 and paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.20 as the 3-5 favorite, stamping himself as a top-tier hopeful on the Kentucky Derby trail.
Calculator broke from post position seven in the eight-horse field and pounced on the leaders three-wide midway around the far turn before taking command three-sixteenths of a mile from the finish.
''It was a perfect trip,'' Trujillo said. ''I went wide because I'd rather go wide than be in-between horses or caught inside. I wanted a clean trip. He did it very easy. Stretching out will be no problem for him; he's very good.''
Calculator was coming off two straight second-place finishes behind highly regarded American Pharoah in the FrontRunner Stakes on Sept. 27 and the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 3.
''I didn't expect him to be this good,'' Miller said. ''I was hoping he was good enough to win at 90 percent (fitness). The water gets deeper from here on out, so we're going to have to step up our game and move forward off of this one.''
Miller said he would consider starting Calculator in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 7.
Rock Shandy returned $10.60 and $5.40, while Pioneerof the West was another 4 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $6 to win.
Trained by Peter Miller, Calculator was running against horses that had won races before. The colt earned 10 points for the win and moved into a tie for second with 14 points total on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard that determines the 20-horse field for the May 2 race.
St. Joe Bay was fourth, followed by Papacoolpapacool, Hero Ten All, Unblunted and Rockinatten.
The victory, worth $60,000, increased Calculator's career earnings to $193,500.
''I went by the barn this morning and he bit me,'' said Pell, who has owned horses since 2008 and earned his second graded stakes win. ''I took it as a good sign. Usually when they do that, I have them gelded, just kidding.''