Lady of Shamrock captured her second straight Grade 1 victory on Saturday when rallying for a half-length win in the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks under jockey Mike Smith. The John Sadler runner was sent off the even-money favorite against her eight rivals, and got up to deny Stormy Lucy while stopping the clock in 1:46.30 for nine furlongs on the firm turf.
The final time was just .04 off the stakes record of 1:46.26 established by Amorama in 2004.
"We got a little pace, but when you're even money and you're running from the back it's always a little gut-wrenching," Sadler admitted. "I saw :23, :47, I was feeling good. The last time she closed into a :50 half.
"Very nice ride," he added. "A little wide, but when you're on the best horse you don't want to get in trouble. We thought she was the best horse and she lived up to the billing today."
Smith settled Lady of Shamrock in the rear of the field as Best Present Ever and Eden's Moon duked it out through splits of :23 3/5, :47 and 1:10 4/5 on the lead. Lady of Shamrock was still biding her time and just began her run as the field entered the turn. Swung widest of all, the dark bay miss gunned it down the lane to get up for the victory, paying $4, $3 and $2.40.
"I liked where I was all the way around. We were last early, but she was under a long hold and running easy," Smith said. "She's one of those fillies with such a wicked turn of foot that you have to be careful. If you niggle on her a little bit, she goes from last to first right now. You've got to trust her. Taking the overland was no problem. No problem at all with her."
Stormy Lucy was game in defeat and bettered her fifth-placing in the American Oaks with this runner-up effort.
"I almost shocked the world," grinned Martin Pedroza, who guided Stormy Lucy to a second-place finish as the 43-1 longshot. "When I turned for home, I thought I was the winner. She was running so good. Then that other filly (Lady of Shamrock) came by us. I said to my filly: 'Come on, momma, come on. Let's go back.' But the other filly was too tough. Just too tough."
It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Open Water, who had run second to Eden's Moon in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap on July 22. American Oaks second My Gi Gi filled out the superfecta, with 5-2 second choice Eden's Moon finishing fifth. Long Face, Indigo River, Mary Fildes and Best Present Ever completed the order under the wire after Cozze Up Lady was scratched.
"No excuses," stated Eden's Moon jockey, Rafael Bejarano. "The pace wasn't too much for her. It was fine. She just didn't run her best today."
Campaigned by Hronis Racing LLC, the nom de course of Kosta and Pete Hronis, Lady of Shamrock scored her fifth career stakes win in this spot to advance her scorecard to 10-6-1-1, $645,400. Conditioned at two by Ronny Werner, the three-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy broke her maiden in her third try on the turf last November at Churchill Downs, and was later purchased privately and transferred to Sadler. Lady of Shamrock made a big impression in her Southern California debut when inhaling the field in the December 30 Blue Norther Stakes.
An early nominee to the Triple Crown, Lady of Shamrock auditioned on dirt in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes January 28, but didn't appear to enjoy the surface switch and checked in a distant third. She regained the winning thread back on turf, taking the March 10 China Doll and the Grade 3 Providencia on April 7, before a near-miss nose second at odds of 1-2 in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap prior to her American Oaks run.
"We're going to look at the race at Santa Anita (Grade 1 Rodeo Drive, formerly Yellow Ribbon, on September 29) or the (Grade 1) Queen Elizabeth II (at Keeneland on October 13) and probably pick one of those. She's very good at Santa Anita, so we'll probably be leaning on staying home," Sadler remarked.
Bred in Kentucky by Grovendale Sales, Lady of Shamrock RNA'd for $35,000 as a Keeneland November weanling. She sold for $80,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling, but brought only $11,000 at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic the following May as a two-year-old in training. Produced by the Blushing John mare Blushing Issue, she's a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Smooth Jazz and the multiple stakes-scoring She's Sensational.
This is the family of Grade 1 winner Royal Chariot and Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile upsetter Dakota Phone. Farther back one can find Grade 2 Kentucky Oaks queen Sweet Alliance, herself the dam of English and Irish champion sire Shareef Dancer; Grade 1-winning sire Mizzen Mast; and the dam of multiple champion and 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta.