Shuffling Kid brought a clear lead into the stretch, then held off a host of challengers at the wire to win Sunday's $114,400 Baldwin Stakes (gr. IIIT) in a blanket finish at Santa Anita. Under Patrick Valenzuela, Shuffling Kid barreled down the firm hillside turf course, finishing the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.30.
"It seemed like the speed wasn't pushing to go forward, so I sat where I was comfortable," said Valenzuela. "I had lots of horse, the turf course has been playing for speed lately so I took advantage of that. I noticed last time he was a little rank with Chris (McCarron), so I knew he had some speed. I let him break on his own, and he broke on top so I was happy with my position."
Sent off at just over 12-1, Shuffling Kid returned $26.20, $11.60, and $7.80. Red Briar paid $7.80 and $7.20. Dark Sorcerer was worth $16.20 to show. The $1 exacta paid $100.40, with a winning $1 trifecta ticket worth $3,739.50. There was $155,618 wagered into the superfecta pool, yielding a $62,107.10 return for a $1 ticket.
Shuffling Kid earned the $68,640 winner's share of the purse by defeating Red Briar by a head. Dark Sorcerer finished a neck farther back in third, with 11-10 favorite Roman Dancer a head back in fourth. Holthehelm finished fifth, a neck behind Roman Dancer. There was a one-length gap back to sixth-place Doc Holiday, who finished a half-length clear of Sweet Stepper, who was a neck-length ahead of Lord Fhazio at the wire. Road To Justice, Irish Vale, Wild Celebration, and Expected Program completed the order of finish.
A chestnut gelding, Shuffling Kid (Rock City -- Clashfern, by Smackover) is trained by Michael Machowsky. After winning his racing debut last March, Shuffling Kid was held winless in eight subsequent starts as a juvenile, mostly in minor British stakes races. With the Baldwin victory, he remains unbeaten as a 3-year-old from two starts. Earlier this month, he won a Santa Anita turf allowance by a nose at the Baldwin distance. His career record now stands at three wins from 11 starts. Peter Baldwin bred him in Great Britain. Shuffling Kid is owned by Blahut, Johnson, Spero, et al.
"He's trained so good on the dirt, I'd like to try him on the dirt somewhere," Machowsky said. "There's not a lot of options with these grass races right now, and no more hill races, so maybe we'll try a dirt race somewhere, not against the bears." (Chart, Equibase