Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he is looking at stakes with Shadwell Stable's Almurra after the 2-year-old filly debuted a neck winner on Thursday at Saratoga Race Course in a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint.
is by Street Cry and out of Alwajeeha, who won the 2008 Grade 1 Queen
Elizabeth II Challenge Cup for McLaughlin and Shadwell.
said he was surprised Almurra won on Thursday, considering her
distance-oriented pedigree, lack of conditioning, and mental immaturity.
very, very well bred and she's does everything right," said McLaughlin.
"[NYRA paddock analyst] Maggie [Wolfendale] was correct in what she
said. She knocked her a bunch, and she was right. She's heavy and Maggie
thought she would need a race. [Almurra] was screaming in the paddock
and was looking for the pony."
said Almurra could make her next start in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo on
October 6 at Belmont Park or in the Grade 3 Jessamine on October 9 at
fun to look ahead and say that the filly wants more ground and should
improve, so we marked her down for the Miss Grillo, but she might go to
Keeneland because of the owner," said McLaughlin. "Shadwell, they like
to run something at Keeneland."
McLaughlin added that he was impressed with Sayaad's
gate-to-wire, 4 ½-length win in the Dance of Life overnight stakes on
Thursday. Sayaad, another Shadwell homebred, won the one-mile race on
the inner turf course in 1:33.77 seconds. The course record is 1:33.42,
set in 2004 by L'Oiseau d'Argent, also trained by McLaughlin.
ran huge. He ran a 'wow' race," said McLaughlin of the 3-year-old. "We
thought he was doing great and thought he would run well, but to run
like that was, 'wow.'"
Italian Wedding gives Sheppard reason to celebrate
For Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, winning the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap never gets old.
Thursday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course, Italian Wedding took the
lead approaching the final fence and held on to give Sheppard his 14th
training victory in the $150,000, 2 3/8-mile steeplechase. Sheppard
also is the owner and breeder of the 8-year-old Alphabet Soup gelding.
a tough, honest little horse," said Sheppard, who most recently won the
NYTW Cup in 2010 with Sermon of Love. "He seems to like Saratoga; he
won up here two years ago. Obviously, he ran well in the Smithwick
[second on August 1]. It's a handicap, so he was getting a little bit of
weight from some of the top horses. He is a horse that I bred myself. I
own his dam and his grandmother, and it means a lot. It was a fun race
and I was really proud of him."
Bernie Dalton riding, Italian Wedding settled in mid-pack as Brave
Prospect led the field of nine jumpers through the first 1 ½ miles. With
Mr. Hot Stuff taking over, Italian Wedding began edging closer and took
command with a three-wide move on the far turn and held on to score by a
length over the fast-closing All Together.
ran really well last time in the Smithwick off about a year and a half
layoff," said Dalton. "I didn't feel like he got tired the last time,
and Mr. Sheppard said he felt like he had a horse that improved off that
run. I had a lot of confidence going into the race."
of a three-horse Sheppard entry that was sent off at 4-5, Italian
Wedding returned $3.90 for a $2 win bet. The Turf Writers Cup was only
his third start since November 2011; prior to the Smithwick he was
fourth in the Carolina Cup on March 2012. Overall, he is 4-3-1 from 19
starts over fences.
Brother, part of the winning entry, was a head back in third, followed
by Mr. Hot Stuff, Spy in the Sky, Demonstrative, Divine Fortune, and
Hunt Ball. Brave Prospect left the course after the 10th fence.