Shaconage (inside gray) edges Etoile Montante to win the Argent Mortgage at Churchill.

Shaconage (inside gray) edges Etoile Montante to win the Argent Mortgage at Churchill.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Shaconage Nips Etoile Montante in Argent Mortgage

In a thrilling last few strides, Shaconage and Brice Blanc came through on the hedge to upset heavily favored Etoile Montante and Jerry Bailey in the Argent Mortgage (gr. IIIT).

It appeared the 3-5 favorite in the Kentucky Derby undercard stakes at Churchill Downs had the race won, digging down as she was challenged by Shaconage. But in a photo, the 18-1 shot pulled the upset by short nose.

"I followed Etoile Montante all the way," Blanc said. "My filly was traveling very well, and when the rail opened, she dug in and went after the leader. I just had to hand-ride her at the finish."

Shaconage is owned by her breeder, Andrena Van Doren and trained by Mitch Shirota. She is by El Prado out of the Gallantsky mare Carita Tostada. She had lost her past five races, winning for the first time since the August 24 Ontario Coleen at Woodbine.

"Cha-Ching! I've been coming to Churchill Downs for 20 years now and this is my first stakes win here," Shirota said.

"She finished (seventh) in her last race at Keeneland but only lost by 4 ½ lengths. We heard this race was coming up short and so we decided to take a chance. I didn't think the distance would be a problem for her, because she had been impressive when she won a stakes at Woodbine last year."

Shaconage notched her fourth win in 13 starts while banking $70,246. She increased her eatnings to $217,648.

Sand Spring under Mark Guidry made an easy lead in the mile race while Honorable Cat and Blu Spur tracked behind. Bailey had the favorite in fourth and she moved on the leaders in the turn and then took the lead down the stretch.

Etoile Montante and Shaconage hit the wire together, the photo showing the smallest of margins between the two. Etoile Montante is owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bobby Frankel, who won the race last year with Heat Haze.

Shaconage paid $40.60, $11, and $7, while Etoile Montante returned $3.20 and $2.40. Chance Dance, to lengths back with Robby Albarado in the saddle, ran third and paid $5.

Sand Springs, Flager, Reason to Talk, Honorable Cat, Abbey Bridge, Blu Spur and Darby's Charm completed the order.

The time for the mile over a yielding turf course was 1:36.10 after fractions of :23.78, :47.28: and 1:11.82.

(Chart, Equibase)