Under heady handling from jockey Edgard Zayas, Shakhimat took over on the backstretch after racing off a tepid early pace and had plenty left to turn back Galton and fellow Ontario-bred stablemate Tower of Texas late to earn his first graded win since 2016.
When Shakhimat notched that initial graded score in the Transylvania Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G3T) in April of 2016, the gelded son of Lonhro (AUS) appeared to be a rising star in Attfield's shedrow. That outing marked his third win in four starts but ended up being the last time he visited the winner's circle until he snapped a nine-race losing skid in September with an allowance win at his Woodbine base.
He finished third behind Tower of Texas in the Labeeb Stakes at Woodbine Nov. 4, which prompted Attfield to put them both on a southbound plane. While Shakhimat faded in that race, he asserted himself in impressive fashion Saturday. He moved on the outside past Western Reserve after he raced off that one's hip through an opening quarter in :25.10 and quickly put a couple lengths of daylight between himself and his challengers.
Shakhimat held his advantage on the far turn following a half-mile in :49.74 and, for a brief moment, looked like he might get reeled in during the final furlong by Galton coming up the rail. It soon became clear Zayas had more to work with than his seven rivals, as Shakhimat responded with more run and hit the wire three-quarters of a length in front, as Tower of Texas was beaten a neck by Galton for place money.
"The way the form looked to me, (Shakhimat) looked like the only true speed in the race, and I was in pretty good position, really, because my other horse is a come-from-behind horse," said Attfield, who co-owns Shakhimat with Dan Gale and William Werner. "(Tower of Texas) likes a lot of speed in front of him. He didn't really have enough speed in front of him.
"When I saw the first half-mile of the race and looked at the fractions, I said it's all over as far as I'm concerned. (Shakhimat's) ears go up and he starts running that way. It worked out perfect, except we should have been second, too."
Blacktype, the 2-1 favorite, trailed the field early and rallied late for fourth by a nose. All Included rounded out the top five, with Camelot Kitten, Western Reserve, and One Go All Go completing the order of finish.
Bred in Ontario by Adena Springs, Shakhimat rewarded those who backed him at 11-1 odds with a payout of $25.40, $12.20, and $7.80. He improved his record to five wins from 16 starts with earnings of $394,151.
"There's a race called the Fort Lauderdale (G2T, Jan. 13) that we'll look at," Attfield said. "I don't want to keep running the two against each other if we can help it, but one of them will be in there and it'll probably be (Shakhimat)."