Another weekend, another unbeaten GI Kentucky Derby contender for Shadwell.
Fresh off the heels of Mohaymen (Tapit)’s tour-de-force win in last Saturday’s GII Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth S. at Gulfstream Park, Sheikh Hamdan’s homebred ‘TDN Rising Star’ Shagaf (Bernardini) followed suit with a measured 1 1/4-length success as the 6-5 favorite while making his stakes debut in Aqueduct’s GIII Gotham S. The pacesetting Laoban (Uncle Mo) stayed on for second at odds of 15-1 over a track playing extremely kind to speed throughout the day. It was another 3/4 of a length back to Adventist (Any Given Saturday) in third.
“I’m very proud of his effort today,” winning trainer Chad Brown said. “Coming into the race our plan was to be able to teach him something and possibly still win the race. The horse broke so sharp, Irad [Ortiz Jr.] told me had to take a hold of him to see what everyone else was going to do. He put him in a good spot. He was little on and off the bridle down the backside catching that dirt for the first time, but once he got in the clear, he was much more comfortable getting away from the kickback. The fact he can secure a spot early with his positional speed is going to come in handy later on.”
Shagaf, a runaway debut winner going a mile over the Big A main track Nov. 22, overcame a wide trip to deliver at that same distance in his sophomore debut to earn the ‘Rising Star’ badge in Hallandale Jan. 29.
Making his first try around two turns in the Gotham, he won the break and held a slight advantage going past the wire for the first time. Laoban, meanwhile, racing to Shagaf’s inside, was under the whip and quickly responded to gain command entering the clubhouse turn. Pinned on the inside in third as Laoban began to slip away through an opening quarter in :23.33, the field began to bunch up a bit following a half mile in :47.16. Ortiz Jr. hit the gas on Shagaf while riding the rail on the far turn and subsequently tipped his charge out three wide for the stretch. Laoban, a maiden of three previous starts, including a third-place finish in the GIII Sham S., put away GIII Withers S. winner Sunny Ridge (Holy Bull) in the lane and looked like he may be on his way to pull of an upset, but Shagaf just kept on coming on the outside to wrestle the lead away in the shadow of the wire.
“Absolutely the plan is stay here in New York for the [GI] Wood Memorial [at Aqueduct Apr. 9],” Brown said. “I didn’t even book a flight back for him regardless of how he fired today. We were always going to commit to leaving him here. He broke his maiden on the outer track here at Aqueduct and for Shadwell it just goes to show you the versatility of their operation. To have two undefeated horses, one that was purchased at auction and one that was homebred–they do it both ways. They have a great team and it’s a pleasure to work with and learn from them. Thankfully, when a horse likes this comes into your barn it makes your job easier.”
The winner’s dam Muhaawara, also a Shadwell homebred, carried the operation’s royal blue silks to victory in the 2010 Sky Beauty S. over this same surface in her career finale. Shagaf is her second foal and second winner. Muhaawara, a daughter of MGISW Habibti (Tabasco Cat) and a half-sister to MGSW Eldaafer (A.P. Indy), produced a 2-year-old filly by Tapit named Mahasen, a yearling filly by More Than Ready last term and was bred back to Tapit that spring.
GOTHAM S.-GIII, $400,000, AQU, 3-5, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:45.90, ft.
1–#@SHAGAF, 116, c, 3, by Bernardini
1st Dam: Muhaawara (SW, $131,297), by Unbridled’s Song
2nd Dam: Habibti, by Tabasco Cat
3rd Dam: Miss Sobriety, by Temperence Hill
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Shadwell Stable; B-Shadwell Farm, LLC
(KY); T-Chad C. Brown; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr. $240,000. Lifetime
Record: 3-3-0-0, $298,800. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple
Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Laoban, 117, c, 3, Uncle Mo–Chattertown, by Speightstown.
($40,000 Wlg ’13 KEENOV; $260,000 Ylg ’14 KEESEP).
O-McCormick Racing LLC & Southern Equine Stable LLC;
B-Respite Farm (KY); T-Eric J. Guillot. $80,000.
3–Adventist, 117, c, 3, Any Given Saturday–Sharp Minister, by
Deputy Minister. ($100,000 Ylg ’14 FTKOCT). O-Treadway
Racing Stable; B-Monticule (KY); T-Leah Gyarmati. $40,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, 3/4, 1. Odds: 1.25, 15.90, 4.70.
Also Ran: Sunny Ridge, Conquest Big E, Rally Cry, Vincento. Scratched: Mo Power.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.