Trainer Jeremiah O'Dwyer picked up his first graded stakes win when Shotski, sent to post at 8-1, led gate-to-wire in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen at Aqueduct in Ozone Park, N.Y.
Owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Blue River Investment Partners, O'Dwyer wisely decided to scratch out of a sloppy renewal of the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs and instead found a fast Big A main favorable to Shotski's versatile style.
Shotski, who broke sharp and never looked back to pass his first two-turn test, earned a career-best 86 Beyer Speed Figure for his front-running win over well-regarded Ajaaweed.
“It was a great day,” said O'Dywer. “This horse is not one dimensional. He can run from behind or go to the lead as he proved yesterday. We studied the race as best we could and opted to let him break good and see where he wants to be placed.
“He's an easy going horse,” continued O'Dwyer. “He just coasted along there and when the horses came to him, he kept pulling out. He opened up a nice lead midway down the stretch and was a little leg weary getting to the line, but a mile an eighth is a long way for 2-year-olds this time of the year. I'm very proud of him.”
In victory, Shotski earned 10 qualifying points towards the 2020 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby along with runners-up Ajaaweed (4), Chase Tracker (2) and Informative (1).
O'Dwyer credited Saez, who partnered Maximum Security to a front-running victory one race later in the Cigar Mile, with a sharp ride.
“I gave Luis free rein,” said O'Dwyer. “He did a super job. At three-and-a-half out, he gave him a little niggle but he was just making sure he had him there when he needed him. They're the top riders in the country up there in New York. Luis just hand rode him most of the way and I like riders that hand ride as much as they can and not just rely on the stick. Luis really grabbed a hold of the horse and helped him along to the line.”
O'Dwyer said Shotski will be nominated to both the one-mile $150,000 Jerome on January 1 and the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers at nine furlongs on February 1 at the Big A. Both races offer 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
“We'll take a look at them all and he'll definitely be nominated,” said O'Dwyer. “There's plenty of these 3-year-old races around the country and I'm not afraid to ship. The horse is a good shipper and traveler. We're happy to take him to whatever may be the most suitable spot for him. I think there's more to come from him and hopefully he'll continue to develop and be a lovely 3-year-old.”
Shotski, a bay son of Blame, graduated at second asking when sprinting six furlongs on the Laurel Park main track on October 3 and followed up with a good fourth in the Street Sense at one mile on October 27 at Churchill Downs.
O'Dwyer said Shotski, who shipped home to his Laurel base last night, came out of the win in good order.
“He jogged up sound and ate up last night. He's full of himself here this morning,” said O'Dywer. “I'd like to give him five to six weeks after that race if we could. We'll let the horse do the talking. I don't like to train them off the paper; I like to train them off what I see in the morning. I'll let him tell me how he's feeling.”
O'Dwyer also saddled Needs Supervision to a fourth-place effort in Saturday's Grade 3 Go for Wand. Owned by Barber, Wachtel Stable, Madaket Stables and Mike Karty
Needs Supervision provided the conditioner his first stakes win when taking the Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds in January.
The 3-year-old Paynter filly raced in fourth position throughout in the Go for Wand won gate-to-wire by Spiced Perfection, a race which O'Dwyer said failed to set up for his talented filly.
“I was happy with the filly's performance. The race wasn't run ideal for her,” said O'Dwyer. “It was very slow, and I knew that would hurt us a bit when you're sitting fourth. Those other fillies were quickening and running to the line and we had to quicken to get to them and quicken again to go by them. It's very hard to do against that caliber of horses. I was hoping she'd get her head down for third. It didn't happen yesterday, but it will. She'll be back for her 4-year-old year.”
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