Sixth in a field of 10 when entering the lane under Alan Garcia, Shakis made his bid from the middle of the racetrack and made his presence known at the sixteenth-pole, although still having to pass a half-dozen rivals. The 8-year-old son of Machiavellian continued to close ground on War Monger, who had taken over from Thorn Song in upper stretch and seemed to be clear. But Shakis continued his assault on the leader and got up by three parts of a length—the same distance he won the 1 1/8-mile event by in 2007.
Peter Vegso’s War Monger, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, was three-quarters of a length in front of third-place finisher Operation Red Dawn. Thorn Song was fourth. The final time over the "firm" turf was 1:46.78.
It had been a disappointing first half of the season for the Irish-bred Shakis, as he made his 2008 debut in the Maker’s Mark Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland and finished sixth. Five weeks later the dark bay horse was beaten by nearly 10 lengths while coming in fifth the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) on Preakness day at Pimlico. He entered the Bernard Baruch off a ninth-place effort in the June 7 Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont, a race he lost by only a head the year before.
It looked as if it were going to be much of the same for Shakis in the Bernard Baruch, as he saved ground through the backstretch but was eighth and well back of pacesetter Thorn Song. The splits were :23.40, :48.17, and 1:11.67. Sensational Humor and Elusive Fort weren’t far off the leader in the early going, but it was War Monger who had a perfect stalking trip and was in hand when coming off the turn.
War Monger finally took over inside the eighth-pole, while a wall of horses began their chase. Shakis angled four-wide entering the stretch, but was not a factor until nearing the sixteenth-pole.
“I didn’t think we had any chance at the top of the stretch,” admitted trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “I was afraid that they weren’t going fast enough up front; I was looking for a faster pace. Alan did a great job.
“He’s really been unlucky. His first race back, he was 10-wide at Keeneland. Then, we went to Pimlico and he had a rough trip. He ran back in three weeks on short rest going 10 furlongs. (But) this is what he wants to do. He’s very sound and he trains good. We just wish they ran the Bernard Baruch twice a year.”
Shakis, who is out of the Nashwan mare Tawaaded, began his racing career in France and then spent more than two seasons racing in the United Arab Emirates, where he won just once. He has hit the winner’s circle three times in nine starts since coming to America in the spring of last year. He has now earned $685,532.
The winner paid $14.80, $8.40, and $6.20. The exacta (6-10) was worth $144, while the trifecta (6-10-3) earned bettors $1,261.
War Monger's trainer Bill Mott was not at all displeased with his horse’s effort. “I thought he ran an incredible race from the outside post. I was worried about him breaking from the 10 post. He was in good position throughout. Coming for home, he kicked it in and ran hard.”
Elusive Fort was fifth, followed by favorite Proudinsky, Drum Major, Sensational Humor, Distorted Reality, and Yate’s Black Cat.