Gormley put himself squarely on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail on Saturday when the 3-year-old son of Malibu Moon triumphed in an extremely game performance in the $100,000 Sham S. (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
Gormley, who won last year's FrontRunner S. (G1), has now won three of his four starts and has earned $296,000 for his owners Jerry and Ann Moss.
The one-mile Sham, run over a sloppy main track, turned into a match race between Gormley and American Anthem. After breaking on top, Gormley and Victor Espinoza conceded the lead to American Anthem on his inside.
The duo sped through the first half-mile in :45.46, when they began to pull away from the rest of the field. American Anthem had the lead at the top of the lane, but Gormley forged ahead and once he got the lead, would not let his foe pass.
The final time was a very good 1:35.89 over the off going.
“I expected him to run the way he ran today,” said Espinoza of the John Shirreffs trainee. “I know he's still improving but I think he only gets better and better. Hopefully, he gets a lot better, but with this race and his next, he has a lot of potential to keep growing.”
“This type of thing never gets old,” added Jerry Moss, who won the 2005 Derby with Giacomo. “He's got a lot of heart and I know he'll go further than this. John's doing all the right things as usual. This was a beautiful horse race and the fans got a thriller. No idea where we'll run next.”
Gormley was one of Malibu Moon's 11 stakes winners last year, with his progeny earnings surpassing the $9.3 million mark. The perennial top-10 stallion will stand the 2017 season at Spendthrift Farm for a fee of $75,000 live foal.
Gormley picked up 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and now has a total of 20, currently second-most behind Classic Empire.