Flashback ten months ago, and Lady of Shamrock was the toast of Southern California. Coming off another strong rallying win in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, the daughter of Scat Daddy was on a big time roll. By sending home her many supporters happy, they had banged her down to even money, Lady of Shamrock had won her for the sixth time in her previous seven turf starts. As a matter of fact, only an unlucky nose loss in the Honeymoon prevented the good looking, dark bay filly from making it a perfect seven with her second straight grade 1 win. That was then, this is now.
After a freshening to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Lady of Shamrock has not finished first in a race since. Mind you, she ran very well in the World Championships, but after encountering traffic at a key point in the race, the John Sadler conditioned miss would only see her strong late run carry her to 5th of 11. Big things were expected of Lady of Shamrock as a four-year-old. They have yet to materialize.
First, she was a little late to the party against the talented Tiz Flirtatious in the Grade 2 Santa Ana. Her second start of 2013 should have been her time to shine, but the 3-10 favorite came home second beaten a length-and-a-half by the unheralded Viva Carina. The stewards rightly reversed the Santa Barbara decision, though, as the big favorite was clearly hampered by the less than straight path of the horse who got to the wire first. Most recently, she had no answers for the way Marketing Mix and Tiz Flirtatious sprinted home in the Grade 1 Gamely. In each of these slightly disappointing races, the common denominator has been moderate early fractions which have not exactly benefited her late-running style. Time for a change.
A cross-country journey may be just the thing the Hronis Racing runner needs after her worst defeat on grass since winning her maiden. Taking on a solid field in Belmont Park’s New York on Saturday, Lady of Shamrock is listed as the 7-2 second choice in a deep field. While this test is no easy spot, I believe she is the most talented horse in the field, and I see the change of scenery as only a good thing for any horse in a bit of a rut. Sadler cites the need for added distance as the reason for the move to New York for the filly who had not previously left Southern California since joining his barn in 2011.
“The reason why we’re headed to Belmont is because it’s become apparent she wants to run longer, and there is no race at a mile and a quarter in California,” said Sadler. “I think she’ll do well on the larger turf course, and she’s in good form, even though she was third the other day [in the Gamely]. Those were some nice fillies [Marketing Mix and Tiz Flirtatious] who beat her. I’m actually looking forward to possibly trying her over less-than-firm ground.”
For these reasons, a go in the New York in New York all makes perfect sense, but as a confirmed closer, Lady of Shamrock remains at the mercy of the early pace, or the lack thereof. A fact not lost on her trainer.
“My concern is the same always: we’d prefer that she had some pace in front of her, and you don’t always get that in these races,” admitted Sadler.
Much like humans, sometimes all a horse needs is a different way of looking at things. Something new to refresh the mind and the soul. Lady of Shamrock gets just that Saturday at Belmont Park. Pace or no pace, I would like to see her do well, because I still believe this one has the potential to be the best turf mare in the nation.