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ELMONT, NY – Trainer Chad Brown hit the barn exacta when Shantisara edged stablemate Higher Truth to win Saturday’s $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational at Belmont Park.
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Shantisara broke from post 6 under Flavien Prat as the 9/2 fourth choice in the field of six 3-year-old fillies and tracked just outside Higher Truth, the 2/1 favorite under Jose Ortiz.
Higher Truth set a crawling pace, posting fractions of :25.51, :51.70, 1:18.12, and 1:43.38 for the opening mile while Shantisara remained just outside her right hip.
Given the green light at the top of the stretch, Shantisara ranged up to take the lead with a furlong to go and gradually inched ahead of her game rival before winning the 1 3/8-mile outer turf route by a 1/2-length in 2:16.91.
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“I was really looking behind those two to see if anyone was going to make a kick off that slow pace,” Brown said. “Fortunately, when they started to widen, it looked like it was a two-horse race, so I was relieved and happy either way it would’ve turned out. It’s too bad there had to be a loser in the race.”
Higher Truth, favored for the first time in her sixth career start, competed in all 3 Turf Triple legs this year, finishing third by a 1/2-length in the Belmont Oaks (G1) and second by 3/4 of a length in the Saratoga Oaks (G3).
“Higher Truth ran her heart out on the lead,” Brown said. “She’s the only filly that ran in all 3 legs of the Turf Triple and ran great in all 3 legs to show her constitution. Jose gave 3 masterful rides in all 3 and she came up just a little bit short each time.”
International invaders Harajuku (the 5/2 second choice) and Creative Flair (3/1 third choice), unable to rally into the top two finishers’ glacial pace, finished third and fourth to result in an all Irish-breds superfecta.
Madone and Baby Blythe completed the order of finish. Be Up scratched.
Shantisara’s win was her second straight following the Pucker Up Stakes (G3) at Arlington Park and improved her overall record to 8-4-2-0 with $488,108 earned. The Coulsty filly put together a 5-2-1-0 record in Europe before being privately purchased by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, and Robert LaPenta, who then sent her stateside to Brown.
“Shantisara is an improving horse,” Brown said. “I just have to say that I’m so appreciative to the ownership group. The three groups that own her have been super patient and let me develop her at our pace and her pace. She’s really shown some promise. … I’m really proud of her development. She and Higher Truth both look like really promising horses going into next year.”
Shantisara returned $11.40 to win, $5.40 to place, and $3.60 to show. Higher Truth brought back $3.20 to place and $2.20 to show. Harajuku paid $2.80 to show.
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