Live Oak Plantation's Charlotte Weber had barely finished celebrating the Commonwealth victory with Awesome Slew, when one race later another of her homebreds Holding Gold flew down the track to win the G2 Shakertown Stakes by a head at the wire. At odds of 18-1, the 4-year-old son of Lonhro, ridden by Joel Rosario and trained by Mark Casse, just as with Awesome Slew, covered 5 1/2 furlongs on Keeneland's firm turf course in 1:02.29.
“Last year we ran him here, and he got beat (2¾) lengths in his last start (in the Oct. 8 Woodford-G3 Presented by Keeneland Select,” said Casse. “I said to (owner) Mrs. (Charlotte) Weber, 'He's only 3 years old. Let's send him home, let him grow up, and if he grows up over the winter, he's going to be as good as any turf sprinter in North America.' So maybe we do have one.”
Justin Squared had a ton of early speed, flying out of the gate to lead Mongolian Saturday and Shakhimat through a first quarter mile in :22.07. Behind the top three stretched three-wide across the track, Green Mask was down on the rail to stalk the pace, with Hogy to his outside. Holding Gold was in behind those two in sixth early on, waiting patiently for another well-timed ride by Rosario.
Rounding the turn for home, Justin Squared drew out a one-length lead over the field. That left room for Green Mask to slide up the rail in the lane, taking over from Justin Squared in mid-stretch. He looked home clean until Holding Gold, flying between horses, burst forward rallying fiercely in the final 100 yards. Holding Gold just got his head in from of Green Mask at the wire, with Hogy getting up to finish third. Partly Mocha finished fourth.
“Good trip,” started Rosario. “Before (the race) in the Paddock, Mark told me – I've never been on this horse before – to save a little ground and he'll probably come with a late run, and he did. That was beautiful.”
Bred in Florida, Holding Gold is out of a mare by Golden Missile. The Shakertown is his first graded stakes win, and first race since the fall meet at Keeneland last year. Overall, Holding Gold boasts a record of four wins and two seconds from nine starts, for earnings of over $270,000.
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