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Sham (horse)

Sire Pretense
Dam Seqoia
Grandsire Endeavour
Damsire Princequillo
Gender Stallion
Foaled 1970
Country USA
Color bay
Breeder Claiborne Farm
Owner Claiborne Farm
Sigmund Sommer
Trainer Frank "Pancho" Martin
Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr
Record 13: 5-5-1
Earnings $204,808
Sham is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Seqoia by Pretense. He was born around 1970 in USA, and was bred by Claiborne Farm.
Major wins
Santa Catalina Stakes (1973)
Santa Anita Derby (1973)
Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on January 22, 2007

Sham (April 9, 1970 – April 3, 1993) was an American thoroughbred race horse, often overlooked in history because of his larger than life peer, Secretariat, of the same birth year. He was a dark seal brown in color, almost black. While racing, he wore green and yellow blinkers. His preferred running style was that of a stalker.


Kentucky Derby Preparation

In 1973 at the age of three Sham won the Santa Catalina Stakes (G2)and took second place in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) over Secretariat who finished third. Most impressive however that spring was his effort in the Santa Anita Derby. Prior to the Santa Anita Derby he was easily beaten by Linda's Chief in the San Felipe.

On March 31, 1973, at Santa Anita Derby (GI), California's main Kentucky Derby prep race, Sham scored a 2 ½ length surprise victory over 1-2 favorite Linda's Chief, under jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. Sham electrified a crowd of 49,564 by equaling the Santa Anita Derby record for the 1 1/8 miles of 1:47, which was set in 1965 by Lucky Debonair. Sham provided Pincay with his third win in the Santa Anita Derby and was greatly helped by his stablemate Nightly Dawn cutting off Linda's Chief and forcing him back causing him to lose many lengths just after the start.

1973 Triple Crown chase

99th running of the Kentucky Derby, May 5, 1973

Before the largest crowd to see a horse race in the United States to that date - 134,476 – the May 1973 Kentucky Derby went off with great anticipation.

Sham ripped two teeth out on the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby. Although bleeding from the start of the race, he poured his entire heart into the effort. Secretariat won by 2 ½ lengths over Sham, running 1:59 2/5 for the 1 1/4 miles, the first horse to break 2 minutes in the Derby. (The previous record was 2:00, set by Northern Dancer in 1964.) By running 2 1/2 lengths behind Secretariat, Sham ran the distance in either 1:59 4/5 or 2:00. As races were not timed to 1/100th of a second, and nonwinning times were not taken, no exact time is available.

It wouldn't be until 2001 that another horse won the Derby with a time under 2 minutes. Monarchos won it in 2001 in an electronically timed 1:59.97, which is by convention converted to 1:59 4/5. No other horse, through and including the 2010 running of the Kentucky Derby has ever been below 2 minutes. Sham's Derby time was thus no worse than the fourth fastest time in history (behind Secretariat, Monarchos, and Northern Dancer) and may have been the second fastest time in history.

Sham's individual time of 23 3/5s in the closing quarter of the race puts him into company with an elite group of horses that closed it in under 24 seconds: Whirlaway whose closing time of 23 3/5s stood for 32 years; and Secretariat who closed it in 23 seconds flat. Whirlaway won the Triple Crown in 1941.


With a Maryland racing record audience of 61,653 looking on, the mighty chestnut Secretariat struck down rival Sham for the second time in two weeks. With a field of just six, Sham finished second to Secretariat by 2 ½ lengths again.

Odd fact: Sham was given only bottled water before the Preakness Stakes.


Under orders, Pincay was to keep Sham with Secretariat from the start. This worked fine through the first turn and into the backstretch. The gates crashed open, and they surged onto the track as one. Secretariat and Sham soon went to the front. Neck and neck, they began to pull away from the field by a half-dozen lengths, Sham taking a brief lead at several points. They were racing as though the marathon Belmont was a sprint race, ticking off quarter-mile fractions in incredible times record-breaking in themselves. Neck and neck halfway through the race, Secretariat pulled ahead as Sham ran out of gas and fell back. With Pincay easing back to protect the exhausted horse, Sham ultimately finished last as Secretariat pulled away to a win later recorded by 31 lengths. The time of 2:24 flat remains a world record for 1 1/2 miles on a dirt track.

Retirement and Death

While Sham did not race again after the Belmont Stakes he was not retired, contrary to the perception of a Belmont breakdown, until July 1973 while preparing to meet Secretariat again at Saratoga. It was in mid July that a hairline fracture of his leg was detected and he was retired.[citation needed] Sham was first sent to stud duty at Spendthrift Farm and later to Walmac International near Lexington, Kentucky. Some of his progeny included stakes winners Arewehavingfunyet (f), Jaazeiro, and Safe Play who was Dam to stakes winner Defensive Play. He died of a heart attack on April 3, 1993 at the age 23. At autopsy, his heart was found to weigh 18 pounds, about twice the average Thoroughbred heart. He is buried on the Walmac farm.



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