HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Making his second career start and first as a 3-year-old, Shadwell Stable homebred Shagaf cruised to a two-length victory in Friday’s featured 10th race at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Chad Brown, the bay son of 2006 champion 3-year-old Bernardini stalked the early pace on the outside, took command turning for home and was unchallenged down the stretch before hitting the wire in 1:37.21 for one mile over a fast main track.
“I was very impressed. He’s trained like a super quality horse since he came into the barn,” Brown said. “The whole Shadwell team came down for the race. Obviously they have Mohaymen in for the [$350,000 Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2)] tomorrow and it’s a homebred of theirs. I’m very lucky they sent this horse to me. He’s special.”
Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Shagaf ($3.80) broke alertly from outside post seven under Irad Ortiz Jr. and sat four wide down the backstretch as 80-1 long shot Picadilly Roadster took the field through a quarter-mile in 23.62 seconds and a half in 46.82.
As Rally Cry, the narrow second choice coming off an impressive maiden victory Dec. 26 at Gulfstream, hesitated to go through an opening along the rail approaching the far turn, Shagaf effortlessly assumed the lead with two furlongs to run and separated from the field.
“I got a good trip,” said New York-based Ortiz, whose victory was his first in 14 tries at the Championship Meet. “We were in a good position down the backstretch and he just pulled me to the lead. He did it on his own.”
Ortiz kept Shagaf to task nearing the wire, chased by Southside Warrior and a rallying Rally Cry. Bar None, Tasit and Picadilly Roadster completed the order of finish.
“[Ortiz] said basically from the quarter pole home he had absolutely nobody around him to keep him focused. It’s only his second career start. He started to maybe let up a little bit before the wire and he had to get after him a little bit,” Brown said. “He said on the gallop out when he heard the horses coming behind him and tried to pull him up, he tried to break again.”
Brown said he would talk with Shadwell’s U.S.-based racing manager Rick Nichols about where to put the late-emerging Triple Crown prospect next, with the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) Feb. 27 at Gulfstream one of the possibilities.
“We’ll speak about it in the weeks to come. Hopefully he comes out of the race in good order and healthy,” Brown said. “He’ll be nominated to everything. [The Fountain of Youth] is a choice, it’ll be considered. There’s a bunch of different factors: Mohaymen, where he’s running; how much time we need after this race; examining the horse physically. We’ll play it safe, nominate him everywhere and let the horse tell us and work as a team.”
Multiple Grade 1 Winner Sheer Drama Arrives at Gulfstream
Harold Queen’s multiple Grade 1-winning homebred Sheer Drama arrived at trainer David Fawkes’ barn on the Gulfstream backstretch Friday afternoon to begin preparations for her 6-year-old debut.
An Eclipse Award finalist for champion older female of 2015, Sheer Drama had been at Queen’s farm in Ocala since her fourth-place finish from post 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) Oct. 30.
“She got here at 2 o’clock. She’s doing great. She put a bunch of weight on, and she looks really, really good,” Fawkes said. “We’ll probably shedrow her for a couple days and then send her to the track, jog her for a week or so and then start galloping her. We’ll probably breeze her in about three weeks, just let her tell us when she’s ready.”
Fawkes said he would like to follow a similar schedule to last year, where Sheer Drama had three wins, four seconds and $1.2 million in purse earnings from eight starts, including victories in the Personal Ensign (G1), Delaware Handicap (G1) and Royal Delta (G2).
The Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 15 at Oaklawn Park and La Troienne (G1) May 6 at Churchill Downs are among the early races being considered by Fawkes.
“It’ll be easier the closer she gets to have a plan. I have some races in mind,” he said. “There’s a lot of races in front of us. Where we’ll start exactly I couldn’t say. We’re happy to have her back.”
$350,000 Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) Highlights Stakes-Filled Saturday
Led by graded stakes winners Mohaymen and Greenpointcrusader, the $350,000 Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) highlights Gulfstream’s stakes-filled 12-race program Saturday.
The 27th running of the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull is carded as the 11th race and is part of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 and 50-cent Late Pick 5 wagers that also includes the $100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3) in race 10.
Also on Saturday’s program are the $200,000 Forward Gal (G2) in race three, the $150,000 Swale (G2) in race four and the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy in race five.
Who’s Hot: Jockey Edgard Zayas posted a riding double with Indian Guide ($7.80) in the fourth race and Wild About Jass ($11.60) in the sixth. Trainer Antonio Sano saddled a pair of winners with Midterm Exam ($5.20) in the eighth and Hy Quality Prince ($13.20) in the 11th.
Rainbow 6 Carryover: $500,000
Late Pick 4 Carryover: $250,000
Late Pick 5 Carryover: $150,000
Source: Gulfstream Park