What we learned: Shantisara emerges as a major player

What we learned: Shantisara emerges as a major player
Photo: Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire

No major dirt stakes races occurred Saturday, but Keeneland ran a Grade 1 turf race with an exciting winner. The lack of graded-stakes races across the country is explained by the Breeders’ Cup coming soon in November to Del Mar, as all of the qualifiers have been run.

If the connections choose to go, there is one more major contender for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. At Keeneland, Shantisara crushed the field in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) for 3-year-old fillies on turf.

Here is a short recap of her trip.

Through the first half-mile, jockey Flavien Prat put Shantisara in a perfect stalking position in the clear while slightly outside of the leaders.

Shantisara’s stablemate Technical Analysis led through 23.91 and 48.63 fractions, with Empress Josephine applying light pressure next to her.

On the far turn, Shantisara crept closer in a wide position. Then she found herself battling Technical Analysis at the top of the stretch. There was little battle between the two Chad Brown-trained fillies as Shantisara continued to move forward and separated from the field.

Under some urging, Shantisara won by five lengths, which is a major margin on turf.

As explained before, turf margins usually end up smaller than winning dirt margins because of how most turf races are crowded sprints to the finish. When a horse wins by five lengths in a Grade 1 turf race, that is a big deal.

For those who care about speed figures in turf races, Shantisara earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure. As of this writing, the TimeformUS figure is not in the system yet.

If the connections send Shantisara to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, she will face older fillies and mares for the first time. That is not an easy task in most cases, but she deserves to race against the best in her division and figures to attract money.

Even though she held second while losing ground, Technical Analysis might need to cut back slightly in distance. She also was sixth by 3 1/4 lengths in the nine-furlong Wonder Again Stakes (G3) at Belmont.

Unfortunately, the Breeders’ Cup Mile is probably too tough for Technical Analysis, and a one-mile Breeders' Cup turf race for fillies and mares does not exist.

Burning Ambition turned in a decent effort for third while making her graded-stakes debut. Before this race, she won the Indiana Grand Stakes by seven lengths in September. Given more time, she might develop into a player in this division soon for trainer Brad Cox.

Fluffy Socks squeaks out win in Sands Point

Belmont Park also ran a graded turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies, but the results were not as impressive as in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

The Brown-trained Fluffy Socks barely won the Sands Point Stakes (G2) by a neck over Runaway Rumour after a frantic five-horse battle.

Fluffy Socks needed the entire length of the stretch to inch clear.

At the end, only 1 3/4 lengths separated the winner Fluffy Socks and the fifth-place Plum Ali.

Of course, Fluffy Socks deserves credit for winning the battle. Off this effort, though, it is hard to see her facing older fillies and mares in the Breeders’ Cup and prevailing again. At this moment, she can barely win against her own peers.

Trainer Chad Brown said she could target the $300,000 American Oaks (G1) on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.

Runaway Rumour ran possibly the best race of her career after closing for second and losing by only a neck to Fluffy Socks. This New York-bred filly has done well to post three wins, two seconds and one third in seven starts.

The third-place Highest Truth is hard to endorse after finishing third as the 6-5 favorite. At those odds, a horse is supposed to win easily in theory. But she disappointed bettors again with another narrow loss.

Higher Truth now carries a four-race losing streak. Yes, she lost by only half a length to Santa Barbara in the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) and by half a length to Shantisara in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational. But at some point, she needs to prove herself capable of finishing the job at this level. Otherwise, how can bettors trust her in the top slot? 

What happened to Harajuku? After a promising third in the Jockey Club Oaks to kick off her new beginning in North America, she was last in the field of seven.

Fluffy Socks is not a great filly, but she fits well in weaker Grade 1 turf contests, as well as in Grade 2 and Grade 3 turf races for fillies and mares.


Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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