A winner in five of his first six lifetime starts, Shakespeare suffered a tendon injury late in 2005 and was sidelined for 21 months. The 6-year-old son of Theatrical-Lady Shirl returned to the track for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin Aug. 2 in an optional claiming at Saratoga. He won that tune-up by a half-length under Garrett Gomez.
In The Mile, under Gomez once again, Shakespeare saved ground through the backstretch and found himself in eighth place after three-quarters, which was set by Remarkable News in 1:09.98. At that point, Gomez started making his move along the rail and Shakespeare began passing rivals as they approached the final turn. Entering the stretch he was in fourth, but still well back of the leader, which by this time was Kip Deville, who was in the middle of the racetrack.
In the final furlong Shakespeare found his best stride on the fence, passing Remarkable News, Galantas and then Kip Deville in the final yards. It was the same heart-stopping move that made him one of the top turf horses in 2005, when he won four straight races before suffering the injury in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I), in which he finished 12th in his only loss. The Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Mile is likely the next stop.
“When I turned for home, I was hoping to be able find a way through there. Becrux came off the fence a little bit and gave me a chance to get on through there," said Gomez. "Once he had seen the daylight, he hit overdrive for us; he got us home. He ran a really good race. I thought the mile might be a little too short for him, but he proved me wrong. He is a very talented horse.
“He is a true professional. He has a lot of heart, a beautiful animal. I was very impressed with him. It is a real honor to touch a horse like this.”
It was the third graded stakes win for the bay horse owned by Dell Ridge Farm and William Schettine, who acquired the Kentucky-bred from Bill Mott’s stable last November. He has now earned more than $1.3 million in his career.
“He is a very classy horse," said assistant trainer Art Magnuson. "We are very lucky to have him in the barn. He is very special. We could tell early that he was very special. Mr. Justice (co-owner and breeder) gets all the credit for all the time off and bringing him back slowly, and it paid off.
Going off as the 2-1 favorite, Shakespeare paid $5.90 to win. The exacta (3-5) with Oklahoma-bred Kip Deville paid $42.90. Galantas, a 21-1 longshot, was third. The final time was 1:33.58.
Defending Mile champion Becrux was never a factor and finished sixth. Remarakable News, the 5-1 second choice, gave way grudgingly in the final 16th to finish fourth.
There were two other graded stakes on the Woodbine turf Sept. 16: the $250,000 Summer Stakes (gr. III) and $300,000 Canadian Stakes (gr. II). In the Summer Stakes, a test for 2-year-olds, Prussian stayed unbeaten in two races, as the Danzig colt stalked the pace early, took the lead after three-quarters and scored by 1 1/4 lengths as the 1-2 favorite. Trained by Mott, Prussian covered the mile in 1:35.26 and will now be pointed to the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Oct. 26.
“I think that would be the most logical place for him to go,” said Mott, who trained for Monticule LLC. “Obviously, he’s still learning. As (jockey) Kent (Desormeaux) said, he was a little anxious and jumped into the bridle maybe a little too early. The good part is, he has good tactical speed and he breaks well. For a course like Monmouth Park, that would be beneficial.”
In the Canadian Stakes, Chiefswood Stable homebred Essential Edge led from the outset and gamely held off Sealy Hill by a neck in the 1 1/8-mile event for females 3 and up. Going off at odds of 10-1, the 4-year-old filly by Storm Cat-Rose of Tara won her third race in a row and went to the winners circle for the fifth time in 15 career starts. She now has three graded stakes wins to her credit.
Trained by Eric Coatrieux, the Ontario-bred’s final time was 1:45.62. She paid $21.90 to win. Betting favorite Meribel finished third.