Shanon Nicole, owned and bred by Connie Apostelos, benefited from a quick early pace to rally and capture the $205,200 Indiana Grand Stakes for 3-year-old fillies in an upset at Indiana Grand Race Course July 23 (VIDEO).
The Indiana Grand, originally scheduled for one mile on the turf, was moved to the dirt before first post time because of heavy rain that hit central Indiana in the morning. It was contested at one mile and 70 yards on a sloppy, sealed main track. That seemed just fine with Shanon Nicole, who in her previous start finished a good second in a one-turn-mile allowance test run on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.
A Kentucky-bred by Majestic Warrior out of the Patton mare Crafty Wac, Shanon Nicole is trained by Mike Maker and was ridden by Miguel Mena. When asked if the connections didn't mind that the race was moved to the dirt, Maker assistant Lazaro Guerra said: "For sure. Last time she ran well on a wet track, and she got the job done today."
With a field of 12 reduced to seven after scratches, the Indiana Grand set up as a two-horse race for six furlongs. Kiss to Remember and 11-10 favorite Kiss Moon battled through spirited fractions of :22.74 for the opening quarter-mile, :45.82 for a half-mile, and 1:10.61 for six furlongs. They were stalked by Nesso, who appeared to have the top two measured as she moved three-wide on the far turn.
Kiss to Remember, ridden by Jeremy Rose, survived the early duel and ran on well to the finish, but she couldn't contain Shanon Nicole, who had conserved her energy in fifth early and had plenty left in the stretch. Awesome Jill, never far back in fourth early, got past Nesso to take third.
Shanon Nicole, who covered the distance in a sharp 1:40.11, less than a second off the track record, finished a length ahead of Kiss to Remember, who had 6 1/2 lengths on Awesome Jill.
Mena, who rode Shanon Nicole for the first time, said the filly struggled a bit with the track early but "really picked it up a the three-eighths pole. She's a nice filly."
The winner, toting top weight of 121 pounds, returned $16.20, $6.60, and $3.60 across the board. Kiss to Remember paid $5.20 and $3.40, while Awesome Jill was worth $3.60 to show. The $2 exacta paid $65.60 and the $2 trifecta $351.80.
It marked the first stakes victory for Shanon Nicole, who now has three wins, four seconds, and a third in 12 career starts with earnings of $257,083. Her previous victory in January came in an off-the-turf allowance/optional claiming race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.