Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational S. (gr. I)

(gr. IT , 12f ,)

SHAKESPEARE (B h, 126 lb) $450,000
Theatrical (IRE) —Lady Shirl , by That's a Nice
B—Dell Ridge Farm, LLC, KY.; O—Dell Ridge Farm and Schettine, William; T—William I. Mott

English Channel (CH h, 121 lb) $150,000
Smart Strike —Belva , by Theatrical (IRE)
B—Keene Ridge Farm, KY.; O—James T. Scatuorchio; T—Todd A. Pletcher

Ace (IRE) (B h, 126 lb) $75,000
Danehill —Tea House (IRE) , by Sassafras (FR)
B—Norelands Bloodstock, IRE.; O—Magnier, Mrs. John, Tabor, Michael and McCalmont, Mrs. Harry; T—Aidan P. O'Brien

Margins: head, ¾, 1. Others: Meteor Storm (GB) 126($37,500) , Salford City (IRE) 126($22,500) , Alost (FR) 126($7,500) , Islero Noir (FR) 126($7,500) . Winning Jockey, Jerry D. Bailey.

Unbeaten Shakespeare had some big question marks going into the Oct. 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park. Could he handle both the 11/2-mile distance and the 126 pounds? After all, he had never raced farther than 11/8 miles and his heaviest impost was 122 pounds.

The bettors certainly thought so. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Shakespeare eked out a head victory over English Channel. Trainer Bill Mott plans to run him next in the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Belmont.

Although there were question marks going into the race, Shakespeare had several things in his favor, especially the turf influences of his sire, Theatrical, and dam, Lady Shirl. Theatrical not only had won the 1987 Turf Classic (gr. IT) and Breeders’ Cup Turf, but was voted that year’s champion grass male. As a stallion, he ranks as one of the leading turf sires.

Lady Shirl was one of the top grass mares in 1991. Her three graded wins that year included a victory in the Flower Bowl Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.

Bred by Frank and Mattie Justice’s Dell Ridge Farm, Shakespeare races for Dell Ridge and William Schettine. Schettine’s big horse as a breeder over the years was three-time grade I winner Take Charge Lady.

Shakespeare was consigned twice at action. The first time was by Warrendale Sales, agent, at the 2002 Keeneland September yearling sale, where he failed to reach his reserve and was bought back for $140,000. The second was at the 2003 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training. Consigned by Wavertree Stables, agent, he was withdrawn.

Lady Shirl is kept at Dell Ridge near Lexington. She produced a 2005 filly by Smart Strike, sire of English Channel, and is carrying a full sibling to Shakespeare.

Theatrical has sired 72 stakes winners, including additional 2005 added-money winners Diboll Dilly, Grand Reserve, Laura’s Lucky Boy, and Olaya (in France). Theatrical stands at John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms near Lexington. His 2005 fee was $50,000.—D.S.