Lee Lewis and Mark Grier’s steadily developing Beasley (Shackleford) could make his stakes debut in the Mar. 4 GII Fountain of Youth S. at Gulfstream Park, trainer Mark Hennig said Sunday. The bay set the pace and finished a good second behind highly regarded ‘TDN Rising Star’ Battalion Runner (Unbridled’s Song) in a contentious allowance optional claiming event Friday.
“He ate every oat [Friday] night and looked great [Saturday] morning, full of energy,” Hennig said. “Obviously, both horses ran hard and you just want to see how they respond. He jumped right in the feed tub and it’s good to see him respond that way. I think he’s a horse that’s still learning. That was his first trip around two turns and hopefully he can improve off of it.”
Beasley was confronted by Battalion Runner after completing six furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile race and battled back along the rail despite being put in tight quarters by his rival. Despite ceding the victory to the heavily favored Todd Pletcher trainee, Beasley crossed the wire 7 3/4 lengths ahead of previously unbeaten Painter’s Rags (Union Rags).
“He’s messing around a little bit on the turns and I think it’s cost him a little bit,” Hennig noted. “It almost cost him his first race and it definitely cost him [Friday]. Jose [Ortiz] said he was just a little bit unmanageable around the turn and he said he’s fine in the stretch, he starts running. He said he’s just playing around more than anything else. I think we can correct that and hopefully move forward.”
If all goes according to plan, Hennig said his charge could step be ready to tackle stiffer competition next time out in the Fountain of Youth.
“It would [make sense] in terms of not having to travel, and you can always travel after the Fountain of Youth if you wanted to do that,” the trainer concluded. “We want to see who else is going and how the other races shape up around the country.”