Shagaf overcomes bias in Gotham as speed mostly dominates on Aqueduct inner track

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

March 9th, 2016


There was a single graded event at Aqueduct this past week.

Gotham S. (G3): Shadwell Stable’s homebred SHAGAF (Bernardini) moved three wide into the lane and finished best of all to remain unbeaten for conditioner Chad Brown. The sophomore colt endured 1 1/16 miles on the fast main oval in 1:45 4/5 with Irad Ortiz guiding him 1 ¼ lengths clear at the finish.

Track Stats

A total of 37 races were held over the inner strip at the Long Island, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 30 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 54 percent of the wins during the week. There were 17 wire-to-wire wins (46 percent).

Speed was clearly best this past week and dominated especially during the first three days of the stanza. A total of 15 of 28 winners led throughout during that time, including eight of 10 on Saturday. Nine total wire jobs came in sprints, with the other eight occurring going two turns. Horses that made up ground from off the pace should be noted in their return engagements.

Meet Totals









168 (39%)

2nd Choices:


84 (19%)

Dirt Wire:


124 (29%)





Thursday (3/3)

4TH – SUPER PSYCHE (Super Saver) didn’t deliver as the choice in this spot but did rally to be a clear second from off the pace on an oval that carried speed all week. The four-year-old colt will soon graduate with any kind of improvement for conditioner Bill Mott.

5TH – CELTIC CHAOS (Dublin) broke slowest from the rail in this spot but overcame the poor start to post a fine score under the guidance of jockey Eric Cancel. The sophomore colt was strong late and rates a big chance right back if he breaks a bit sharper.

Friday (3/4)

3RD – Todd Pletcher’s CARDS OF STONE (Bustin Stones) did get away with pretty soft early splits, but the gelding left little doubt that he was much the best with a 13-length romp. The New York-bred could obviously be a player in the stakes ranks at this level with continued improvement.

6TH – FROYO STAR (Rockport Harbor) surely earned this maiden score after fighting off a pair of foes in a tough stretch run beneath Irad Ortiz Jr. The David Jacobson pupil could be a contender in her first try with winners after showing a lot of heart in this affair.

Saturday (3/5)

2ND – UNSTOPPABLE U (Exchange Rate) made it four straight and five of seven since coming off the layoff, posting another solid claiming score. The seven-year-old gelding is so tough at this level and while in form at this stage of his career.

3RD – The Jimmy Jerkens-trained FIVE STAR RAMPAGE (Quality Road) took a bunch of early money in this debut run and made good with a facile wire-to-wire tally. The three-year-old filly didn’t set the teletimer on fire, but she still looks like a promising prospect.

Sunday (3/6)

3RD – MATT KING COAL (Cool Coal Man) made a successful comeback to the races with a front-running score for conditioner Linda Rice. The talented and expensive sophomore colt should be stakes bound in the near future as he makes a possible bid for the Kentucky Derby.  

5TH – AWESOME GENT (Awesome Again) ran off to a third straight easy sprint win, this time with open foes, and it might be time to start taking this New York-bred seriously after posting a 102 BRIS Speed figure. The Pletcher trainee is bred to get more ground and is an intriguing one in our eyes.

A Look Ahead

Saturday will play host to the lone graded race this weekend, the $200,000 Tom Fool H. (G3).