Given a patient ride by David Flores, Shakin It Up rallied between horses to capture the $150,250 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) Feb. 17 at Santa Anita Park, giving trainer Bob Baffert his eighth win in the sprint event for 3-year-olds.
Owned by his breeder, Mike Pegram, in partnership with Dennis Cardoza, Shakin It Up earned his first stakes win as the 2-1 second choice. The Kentucky-bred dark bay or brown colt is by Pegram's champion sprinter, Midnight Lute , out of the unraced Vindication mare Silver Bullet Moon, whose dam is Pegram's champion filly Silverbulletday.
Baffert said he did not know what race would be next for Shakin It Up.
"He was sort of fresh today," Baffert said. "I didn't really have him super-cranked up for the race, but we've always thought highly of him, so we'll just find something for him, I don't know."
Caballo Del Cielo, ridden by Corey Nakatani, took the early lead and was immediately engaged in a spirited pace duel with 9-5 favorite Belvin, also trained by Baffert, who was hustled to contest early along the inside. Belvin held a narrow lead as he clicked off an opening quarter-mile of :22.88 and a half-mile in :45.62.
Shakin It Up, never far off the pace while stalking along the inside, waited for room while racing third, and Flores directed him through a gap in upper stretch as Caballo Del Cielo floated out a bit.
The field was six abreast as Shaking It Up rallied impressively between horses under urging from Flores to get the lead approaching the sixteenth pole. After inching away for a bit of daylight under left-handed urging, he held sway in the final strides as Treasury Bill and Joe Talamo came on late on the far outside.
"He put me in a spot I wasn't expecting," said Flores, who had just two wins at the meet prior to Shakin It Up's victory. "He put me in the race right away, so I just had to be patient and wait for the pocket to open, and that's pretty much what happened. When I asked him to go he accelerated, a tremendous acceleration."
Flores said he's excited to be back aboard a horse with Triple Crown potential.
"Absolutely! That's my dream that I'm chasing every day," he said. "I still go to the mountains to keep myself in great shape because you never know when it's going to come. You have to be prepared for a horse like this."
"He finished real strong," Talamo said of the runner-up. "I was real proud of him from coming out of a maiden race to run a race like this today."
The San Vicente, in spite of a long history, is not part of the Kentucky Derby points qualifying system. But the race was considered a good place to start for a field loaded with promising sophomores.
"This should have had at least 10 points on it,'' Baffert said. "This was a tough race.''
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, Shakin It Up paid $6.40, $3.80, and $2.80. Treasury Bill returned $5 and $3.80, while Caballo Del Cielo paid $3.60 to show.
Shakin It Up was making his first start since finishing a good closing third in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) Nov. 22 on the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park. In that race, he rallied willingly after being blocked in upper stretch to finish less than a length behind stablemates Really Mr Greely and Super Ninety Nine.
Flores regained the mount on Shakin It Up after Martin Garcia rode him in the Prevue.
"He has done well with him and I was sort of mad at myself for taking him off (in the Prevue)," Baffert said. "I was trying to help Martin out a little bit, but I put David back on and he gets along with him pretty well."
The colt began his career last October at Santa Anita, finishing second to Super Ninety Nine in a seven-furlong maiden special weight. He broke his maiden in his next start, Oct. 27 at Santa Anita, defeating Caballo Del Cielo by 4 1/2 lengths in a six-furlong heat.
Shakin It Up's career mark stands at 2-1-1 in four tries with earnings of $139,600.