Sports Betting

Brown might start three in Wood Memorial at Aqueduct

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March 9, 2016

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – There’s a good chance that Shagaf won’t be trainer Chad Brown’s only starter in the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9. While Shagaf punched his ticket to the Wood Memorial by virtue of his victory in Saturday’s Grade 3 Gotham Stakes, Brown was heartened by what he saw from Flexibility on Sunday morning and from My Man Sam on Sunday afternoon, which could lead to one or both also aiming for the Wood Memorial.

Flexibility, the winner of the Grade 3 Jerome, put in a sharp half-mile workout Sunday in 48.75 seconds that gives Brown reason to believe that the colt can bounce back from his disappointing fourth-place finish in the Withers Stakes last out. He worked in company with General George Stakes runner-up Majestic Affair, who is pointing to the Grade 1 Carter on April 9. Speaking of Flexibility, Brown said, “He worked very well. We were always going to give him a breather, win or lose the Withers, and the time off served him well.” Flexibility’s next start could be determined by how Economic Model does Saturday in the Tampa Bay Derby, as both are owned by Seth Klaravich and Bill Lawrence. If Economic Model runs well, he likely will head to the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, meaning that Flexibility will run in the Wood Memorial.

If Economic Model falters in Tampa, then Flexibility would be considered for the Wood Memorial or the Blue Grass. At Aqueduct on Sunday, My Man Sam rallied from about 10 lengths back to finish second, one length behind loose-on-the-lead winner Matt King Coal, in a first-level allowance race going 1 1/16 miles. The race appeared to validate My Man Sam’s eight-length maiden win Jan. 31, when he rallied from 15 lengths back. “Our horse ran terrific,” Brown said. “That’s his running style. We weren’t going to take him out of his game due to the track, and he finished really, really well, and I think he learned a lot more today as well. Now that he’s got three races under his belt, we’ll look forward to trying him in a stakes next time.” Brown said he wanted to talk with Sol Kumin, who heads the group that owns My Man Sam, to discuss where to run the horse. Brown said that barring an unforeseen health issue, My Man Sam will be a late nominee to the Triple Crown series. Owners have until March 21 to pay a $6,000 late nomination fee.

Meanwhile, Shagaf improved his record to 3 for 3 with his 1 1/4-length victory in the Gotham. Brown said Shagaf jogged soundly Sunday, and the horse will remain at Belmont Park to train up to the Wood Memorial. Though the final time of the Gotham was slow – 1:45.90 for 1 1/16 miles – Shagaf was the only winner to come from off the pace on a severely inside-speed-biased track and took dirt for a prolonged period of time for the first time in his career. “It was an important race,” Brown said. “We trained the horse to win the race, but we weren’t afraid to try and educate him in the process and risk losing the race. I’m thrilled that he was able to win and not run some knockout number or I’d be worried about whether he’s going to bounce off this race. He ran a race, to me, that gives him a good opportunity to continue to develop if he’s going to cooperate.” Shagaf earned an 87 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance.

Laoban, the Gotham runner-up, was expected to ship back to trainer Eric Guillot’s base in Southern California on Wednesday and likely will be pointed to the Blue Grass on April 9, Guillot said. Adventist, third in both the Gotham and Withers, will be pointed to the Wood Memorial, trainer Leah Gyarmati said Sunday. Sunny Ridge, the Withers winner who finished fourth in the Gotham, will be nominated to the Wood Memorial, but trainer Jason Servis said he would wait at least a week before deciding if that’s where the New Jersey-bred gelding will run.

Matt King Coal’s strong return to the races, a front-running, one-length victory over My Man Sam on Sunday, could lead to a start in the Wood Memorial, trainer Linda Rice said. The race was Matt King Coal’s first since winning a maiden race by 5 3/4 lengths on Oct. 29. Matt King Coal had respiratory issues that kept him out of the Jerome and Withers stakes. Rice only had three works into Matt King Coal leading into Sunday’s race, which came up a bit tougher than Rice had hoped. “He needed a race for fitness as much as anything,” Rice said after the race. “I could have skipped the race and breezed him back and run him in the Private Terms [at Laurel on Saturday]. I thought the timing was better, but we didn’t anticipate the race coming up quite as tough as it did. I was a little nervous about it. Right now, I’m feeling good about it.” Matt King Coal’s final time of 1:44.92 for 1 1/16 miles was nearly a full second faster than Shagaf’s final time for the Gotham on Saturday. Matt King Coal, a son of Cool Coal Man owned by Sheila Rosenblum, earned a 90 Beyer. “I asked Jose [Ortiz] if he felt he was ready to move on to the mile and an eighth, and he said, ‘Definitely,’ ” Rice said. “He said he got tired at the end of it, but he was amazed at how well he galloped out.”



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