Trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal, a native of Guyana, has a unique metaphor for
the Breeders’ Cup.
“In cricket terminology, this is the World Cup,” said
It’s a fitting comparison, as Shivmangal trained thoroughbreds
and formed the Guyana Cricket Association in his country of origin. This year,
he’ll get to participate in the “World Cup” of thoroughbred
racing for the first time with Shkspeare Shaliyah, an expected starter in the
Shivmangal’s journey to the Breeders’ Cup has had more
twists than, well, a work of Shakespeare. He was born into a racing family as
his father, Bulla, was a trainer and his brother, Kalpoo, was a jockey. Doodnauth
successfully rode one of his father’s horses, Broadway Bill, before he
became too heavy to continue his career as a jockey, going on to train top
local horses such as Guyana Star and Guyana Flyer.
After immigrating to the United States
in 1984, Shivmangal worked at various shipping jobs before he started D.S.
Trucking, which developed into D&S Logistics Inc., a company based at John F.
Airport. He started
training on the New York
circuit in 1991, winning 21 races from 249 starts before he left the sport in
1995 to tend to his freight business.
Last year, Shivmangal began his third stint as a trainer, participating
in the 2011 Preakness and Belmont Stakes with Isn’t He Perfect, who finished
ninth and 12th in the final two legs of the Triple Crown. His best
performer since his return has been Shkspeare Shaliyah, who on October 2 gave
the trainer his first graded stakes win when he captured the Grade 3 Pilgrim at
Shivmangal’s story with Shkspeare Shaliyah began in June at the
OBS June Sale of Two-Year-Olds & Horses of Racing Age. The trainer wanted
to buy a horse for his adolescent granddaughter Shaliyah, originally purchasing
a son of Bandini for $45,000 before he returned the colt to the seller after
discovering a bone chip. In need of a new racing prospect, Shivmangal noticed
hip 592, a bay son of dual Grade 1-winning turf horse Shakespeare.
“I remember him vividly,” said Shivmangal. “I looked
at him in the morning, and I remembered Shakespeare. I looked at the mom
[Tricky Mistress], who I saw was by Clever Trick and had produced a few
winners. He had a little cut on his skin from either the van or the stall. He
was a little wide behind, but he was a well-built horse. I assumed he’d
go for $30,000-40,000. I got him for $21,000, and I was pleased.”
The colt – subsequently named Shkspeare Shaliyah, with the first
“a” and “e” in “Shakespeare” dropped in
order to comply with the Jockey Club’s 18-character limit –
displayed potential in his early training.
“We knew he could run, so we took him to Saratoga where we would have more
opportunities to breeze him on the grass,” said Shivmangal. “He
went a half in 48, and we didn’t realize he was going that fast.”
The colt made his highly anticipated debut on August 27, Travers Day,
coming from far back to finish third, defeated one length.
“We expected to win the race,” said Shivmangal. “He
broke badly and the No. 2 horse came over on him, but he still ran a big
Shkspeare Shaliyah earned his diploma in his second start, making an
outside rally to take the lead in the final sixteenth en route to a half-length
victory at Belmont
Park on September 18.
Alex Solis, who rode Shkspeare Shaliyah that day, was aglow after the race.
“To be honest with you, when he ran in the maiden special weight
there was no doubt in my mind that he’d win that day,” said
Shivmangal. “After the race, Alex told me he was a Breeders’ Cup
Shskpeare Shaliyah, however, still needed to earn qualifying points for
the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, necessitating a strong performance in
the Pilgrim. The colt delivered one, closing stoutly from last on the outside once
again to register a one-length score.
“We knew he is a hell of a horse and there was no chance he was
going to lose that day [in the Pilgrim],” Shivmangal said. “He’s
a special horse, and Alex told me he has a special kick and engine.”
Even though Shkspeare Shaliyah made an emphatic case of continuing to
the Breeders’ Cup with his Pilgrim victory, he was not nominated to the
program, requiring Shivmangal to supplement the colt for $100,000 in addition
to paying $30,000 in pre-entry and entry fees.
Shivmangal is quick to credit his family for their support over the
decades, and he was able to call upon them to help raise the funds. His wife,
Zalimoon Hassim, and two of his children, Kevin and Sherrie, made the outreach
to members of their extended family, and together they were able to find enough
money to supplement the horse.
In addition paying $130,000 in fees to run Shkspeare Shaliyah in the
Juvenile Turf, Shivmangal has also declined offers from prospective buyers.
“I could not sell the horse because it would upset my
granddaughter,” said Shivmangal. “How could I do that to her? When
I was sick, she would come visit me in the hospital and cry.”
Instead of dwelling on the risk his family is taking with Shkspeare
Shaliyah, Shivmangal, a man of faith, is grateful for the opportunity the colt
“I’m not going to worry about it,” said Shivmangal.
“Do I get in my car and think I’m going to crash? No. Things do
happen in horse racing. I put up the money. We are hoping and praying that by
the grace of Lord Krishna that this work out. And I think [Shkspeare Shaliyah]
will do it.”