Needing some time to get her sea legs, Always Shopping debuted with a flat fifth going six panels at Saratoga last July before finishing a distant second in her route debut at Belmont Oct. 25. Despite an awkward start at the Big A Dec. 14, the well bred filly closed to finish a close-up second before breaking through with a victory in the nine-panel Busanda S. Feb. 3. Installed the 7-2 third choice for this graded debut, she settled behind graded-winner Positive Spirit, who carved out a poky opening quarter mile in :24.92, while Busher S. winner Espresso Shot raced in fifth. Putting the screws to the second choice following am equally lethargic half in :50.09, she was head-to-head with that rival turning for home, pulled ahead down the lane and proved best over her more fancied rival by 1 3/4 lengths. Off Topic was third, while favored Espresso Shot was fifth.
“There wasn’t really any pace looking at the race on paper,” opined winner trainer Todd Pletcher. “It was one of those races where you had no really good idea of who would be on the lead. We decided to just let [jockey] Manny [Franco] do his thing and he put her in a good spot. He said he felt like he had a lot of horse the whole way.”
Asked if he thought the filly might now target the GI Kentucky Oaks, Pletcher added, “I think the key is if she can continue moving forward. I think she’s proven that two turns, a mile and an eighth, is her thing. I actually think she’d be better off in a race with some pace where she could settle and make one run. I’m proud of her.”
GAZELLE S.-GII, $300,000, Aqueduct, 4-6, 3yo, f, 1 1/8m, 1:52.91, ft.
1–ALWAYS SHOPPING, 120, f, 3, by Awesome Again
1st Dam: Stopshoppingmaria (SW & GISP, $394,631), by More Than Ready
2nd Dam: Skybox, by Spend a Buck
3rd Dam: A Status Symbol, by Exclusive Native
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. O-Repole Stable; B-Repole Stable
Inc (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-Manuel Franco. $165,000.
Lifetime Record: 5-2-2-0, $252,000. *1/2 to Mo Shopping
(Uncle Mo), SW & GSP, $131,250. Werk Nick Rating: D+.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Positive Spirit, 122, f, 3, Pioneerof the Nile–Above
Perfection, by In Excess (Ire). O-Michael J. Ryan; B-Santa Rosa
Partners (KY); T-Rodolphe Brisset. $60,000.
3–Off Topic, 118, f, 3, Street Sense–Off Limits, by Include.
($160,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-Paul P. Pompa, Jr.; B-WinStar
Farm, LLC (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $36,000.
Margins: 1 3/4, NK, 1 1/4. Odds: 3.95, 2.35, 5.80.
Also Ran: Proud Emma, Espresso Shot, Afleet Destiny.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.