Shakhimat winds his way to victory in Coronation Futurity
Shakhimat took command of Sunday’s $188,502 Coronation Futurity soon after the start under jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson and never looked back, though he did weave around a bit in the Woodbine stretch.
The two-year-old colt capped off a nice day for trainer Roger Attfield that began two races earlier when Are You Kidding Me captured the Autumn S. (Can-G2). Alan Garcia was aboard that Attfield trainee, but Wilson got the easy job with Shakhimat.
Like Are You Kidding Me, the Ontario-bred son of Lonhro broke from the inside post 1. However, unlike his stablemate who tracked behind the pacesetter, Shakhimat immediately grabbed the lead and proceeded up front through fractions of :23.66, :48.18, 1:12 48 and 1:37.89.
The dark bay colt held a decent, though not large, lead heading into the lane, and 9-5 favorite Conquest Twister was beginning his move after a four-wide trip rounding the turn.
Suddenly, Shakhimat hit another gear after Wilson shook the reins at him. Within seconds he had opened up by 3 1/2 lengths.
From there the still-learning juvenile continued pulling away, though not without a couple scary instances of nearly running into the rail. Shakhimat weaved back and forth a bit but was a clear winner when crossing under the wire 9 3/4 lengths the best.
Shakhimat carried owner Dan Gale’s colors under the line in 1:51.10 for nine furlongs over the Polytrack. He returned $10.80 as the 4-1 third choice against nine rivals.
"The way the tracks been playing the past few days, we had the advantage on the inside," Wilson explained. "There were a couple horses that had shown speed in the race and as soon as we broke he was pretty keen to be there. I was happy with the position and he was doing it easy enough.
"When we straightened away, I asked him and turned him loose. I took a peak up at the Jumbotron after that eighth of a mile and I couldn't believe the ground he'd opened up. There were some nice horses behind him. That's a testament to how good this horse is."
Conquest Twister took second by 1 1/4 lengths over Scholar Athlete, while Hey Bear finished another length back in fourth as the 111-1 longshot. Distinctive Bay was eased in the lane after running in last down the backstretch and walked off.
While there was no doubt of the winner, it took some time for the race to be declared official as the also-rans’ jockeys lodged claims of foul against one another. Traffic trouble at the top of the lane was the complaint David Moran, who piloted Hey Bear, lodged against Alan Garcia on Scholar Athlete, while Garcia claimed the same against Patrick Husbands aboard Conquest Twister.
The stewards soon disallowed all claims and the race was stamped official.
Shakhimat entered the Coronation Futurity off a distant third in the grassy, 1 1/16-mile Cup and Saucer S. at Woodbine on October 11. That followed a 2 1/4-length debut wire job sprinting seven furlongs over the Polytrack, to which he returned Sunday.
"He's showed me a lot of ability, but I've always questioned what his best distance would be eventually. I was feeling he might be a sprinter or miler type horse," Attfield said.
"After the Cup and Saucer, I'd decided I was going to put him away until next year. I was trying to let him down and he wouldn't let me let him down. I kept taking him to the track, and the horse was doing so well I decided to give him a go at it."
While the dark bay colt may finally deign to take a break, bigger and better things await next year.
He could attempt to become the first Coronation Futurity winner to go on and win the Queen’s Plate since the Attfield-trained Norcliffe, who accomplished the feat in 1975-76.
Shakhimat photo courtesy of WEG/Michael Burns Photography