Horse racing handicappers are often heard to say that they’re going to ‘draw a line through’ a horse’s last race. This means that they consider a poor performance uncharacteristic of a horse’s overall body of work. Trainer Chad Brown is doing the same thing with his horse Shagaf–despite a horrible ride in the Wood Memorial he’s continuing on to the Kentucky Derby with the hopes that better things await.
Shagaf went off as the 9-5 favorite in the Wood Memorial but was never a factor in a fifth place finish. He appeared to be troubled by the off track (muddy, sealed) and struggled to find his footing as he encountered traffic. By the time he was back in the clear his energy was zapped. Brown didn’t have an excuse for the ride–to his credit, he didn’t blame the jockey–but he did offer this account: “He made a good move into the turn. He ran up into a wall of horses and he had to pause. When he tried to re-rally again he was very one-paced and tired and encountered a lot of mud and kickback.”
Shagaf really didn’t need anything out of the Wood Memorial. He earned 50 points with a victory in the Gotham Stakes earlier this year and that will be enough to get him into the Kentucky Derby field. Despite the lack of urgency in earning points in the Wood no trainer wants to head into a major race off a disappointing performance. Shagaf’s run will also result in him being reconsidered by the betting public–he had been considered something of a serious contender for the Kentucky Derby. In the previous release of Kentucky Derby futures odds by the Wynn Las Vegas he was installed at 15/1.
Brown has another horse heading to Churchill Downs. My Man Sam finished a hard fought second in Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes, getting his head in front of third place Cherry Wine at the wire. That gives him 40 points and overall Brown was pleased with his performance at Keeneland: “I thought he ran great considering that difficult post position (14). He finished strong and got up for second and earned enough points if we want to run in the Derby, which we do.”