Shamdinan Sizzles in Secretariat Triumph

Shamdinan Sizzles in Secretariat Triumph
Photo: Four-Footed Fotos
French-bred Shamdinan makes U.S. debut with Secretariat Stakes win.

The French-bred Shamdinan, making his United States debut for new trainer Doug O'Neill and owner Triple B Farms, caught a game Red Giant in the final strides to win the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) {VIDEO} for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park Aug. 11.

Under left-handed urging by Julien Leparoux, Shamdinan closed with determination on the outside of Red Giant and Garrett Gomez for a half-length win. The final time was 2:04 over a course upgraded to good before the race. Shamdinan, a chestnut son of Dr. Fong, earned an automatic berth in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) later this year.

Third-place finisher in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (Fr-I) June 3 when trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre for the Aga Khan, Shamdinan was coming off a dismal 10th-place showing, beaten by more than 35 lengths on a heavy course in the July 1 Irish Derby (Ire-I) at the Curragh. Following his only off-the-board performance, he was sold to the O'Neill team privately and is to be transferred to the trainer's California base following the victory.

"He was very relaxed for me today and took the bit and I thought he won pretty easy," Leparoux said.

Shamdinan, who carried 119 pounds -- four fewer than Red Giant -- raced with Lasix for the first time in his six-race career. After breaking slowly, he was eighth after three-quarters of a mile while saving ground for Leparoux before swinging into gear while five wide on the final turn.

Red Giant, placed on the outside in a stalking position by Gomez, seized the lead in upper stretch and opened up a clear advantage through the lane, just failing to last while drifting out late. The effort validated the Todd Pletcher trainee's nose victory at 37-1 in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) July 21 at Colonial Downs.

"I was able to get in a great spot," Gomez said. "When I said ‘let’s go’ - he did. He ran a great race. He was just second best today.”
 
Going Ballistic, ridden by Cliff Berry, advanced through traffic after being trapped on the inside to finish third, six lengths behind the winner. The 9-5 favorite Admiralofthefleet -- a group II winner in England -- settled for fourth after a ground-saving trip in his first North American start for famed Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien.

"I probably needed to get out between the quarter-pole and the half-mile pole but I could not," Irish jockey Mick Kinane said of the favorite. "When I did come out, I just stayed one-paced. It was disappointing.”
 
Pleasant Strike, a second Pletcher runner breaking from the extreme outside in the field of nine, strode for the early lead and got to the rail to cut fractions of :24 4/5, :48 4/5 and 1:14 3/5 while pressed by Fleeting Shadow. The leaders backed up quickly and the complexion of the race changed completely in the lane.

The versatile Shamdinan had just one prior win -- breaking his maiden by a nose at Saint-Cloud in April. He made his big effort in the French Derby as a 13-1 outsider. The colt earned $225,600 for his new connections and has now banked $482,552 in his brief career.

Sent off as the co-third choice, Shamdinan paid $11.60, $6 and $4.80. Red Giant returned $4 and $3.20, completing a $47.20 exacta, and Going Ballistic was $4.60 to show.

It was 1 3/4 lengths back Admiralofthefleet, followed by Love Dubai, Mostacolli Mort, Lattice, Pleasant Strike and Fleeting Shadow.

(Chart, Equibase)

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