Everyone knew that Shakin It Up had the talent, but whether or not he could carry that ability over two-turns was a big unknown going into this afternoon’s Strub Stakes at Santa Anita. Question asked, question answered. Coming off a sharp return to the races in winning last month’s Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs, the Bob Baffert trained son of Midnight Lute was even more impressive today with a much the best 2 ¼ length victory in the historic Grade 2 affair, under Mike Smith.
“I was really impressed,” said Smith, who rode Shakin It Up for the first time on Saturday. “My main concern was the distance today…He certainly has developed into a bigger, stronger colt. I think he can get a mile and an eighth and after that, it’s no man’s land.”
With his only previous distance race ending in a disappointing finish in last spring’s Sunland Derby, Shakin It Up was understandably let go as the 3-1 second choice in the traditional Santa Anita Handicap prep for the four-year-olds. He ended up looking more like a 3-5 shot.
Finding a good stalking position behind Heir of Storm and Govenor Charlie early, Shakin It Up always looked strong as he waited for the time to pounce. Moving smoothly to the leaders on the turn, he collared his stablemate, Govenor Charlie early in the stretch, and coasted home in a solid time of 1:41.86 for the 1 1/16 miles on the fast track.
“I was never really sure he could go two turns,” said Baffert. “Today, the way he did it, I was pretty impressed myself…The time was pretty fast…I know Mike, when he worked him the other day, he just loved him. I don’t think there’s a limit (to how far he could run) the way he ran today.”
Bred in Kentucky by Mike Pegram, Shakin It Up is owned by Pegram and former U.S. Congressional Representative Dennis Cardoza. With the victory, he raised his lifetime record to 7-4-1-1, and raised his earnings total to $487,600.
As for the runner-up, Govenor Charlie, making his first start since finishing way back in the Preakness Stakes, was the closest to the winner at the wire. The big winner of last year’s Sunland Derby stalked the early pace of Heir of Storm, and took over the lead, but was no real threat to Shakin It Up in the stretch, while finishing 2 ¼ lengths clear of the race favorite Hear the Ghost, for second.
It was a good return performance for Govenor Charlie, and an excellent 1-2 result for Bob Baffert, but the 2014 Strub could go on to be remembered as the day we all learned Shakin It Up could handle a distance. Now that we have this information, the next question could be just how far could this talented colt go.