Trainer Nicks bullish on Shivaree after final Blue Grass work

Trainer Nicks bullish on Shivaree after final Blue Grass work
Photo: Ryan Thompson/Gulfstream Park
Jacks or Better Farm’s Shivaree breezed five furlongs in 1:01.65 Saturday at Gulfstream Park in preparation for a scheduled start in the next Saturday’s $600,000 Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland.

“It was a very good work – 1:01 and change and 1:14 and change in the gallop out,” trainer Ralph Nicks said.

Shivaree, who finished second behind early Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Tiz the Law in the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park March 28, is scheduled to ship to Keeneland Tuesday for a start in the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds.

“I hope he reproduces his Florida Derby race in the Blue Grass, then he’ll get a big piece of it. If he doesn’t get it all, he’ll get a big piece of it,” trainer Ralph Nicks said.

The homebred son of Awesome of Course has demonstrated a tenacious racing style and an ability to ‘fire’ every time he has run since breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park West last November. He followed up his maiden score with back-to-back stakes victories in the six-furlong Limehouse and the Buffalo Man to open the 2019-2020 Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park. Shivaree continued on to finish second in the seven-furlong Swale (G2) and the six-furlong Hutcheson before stretching out around two turns to finish a gritty second behind Tiz the Law in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby.

“He reminds me of the old-fashioned horses we had in the ‘90s when I was with Bill Mott. We had the [Allen] Paulson horses, horses that showed up every time,” said Nicks, who served as assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who conditioned such greats as two-time Horse of the Year Cigar, Fraise, Ajina, Escena and Geri. “They enjoyed what they did and didn’t need much time between races.”

A half-brother to precocious multiple-stakes winner Garter and Tie, Shivaree could manage only one in-the-money finish in his first four career starts, which included a pair of even efforts in Florida Sire Stakes action, before breaking through with his eye-catching 9 ½-length maiden victory. “After that he’s like a different horse. I don’t know what turned the key to him, but for some reason he has been a different animal than he was,” Nicks said. Shivaree most recently finished third in a July 10 stakes-quality allowance while running for the first time since the Florida Derby, beaten 1 ½ lengths by Tampa Bay Derby (G2) runner-up Sole Volante after being involved in a contested early pace.

2020 Blue Grass Stakes (G2)

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