Winning the Skidmore Stakes apparently runs in the Sh Sh Shakin‘ family.
The Richter Scale mare’s first foal, the Giant Oak colt Chattel , first captured the Saratoga Race Course stakes race in 2018, and on Aug. 20 a 2-year-old Midshipman filly out of the mare, Averly Jane , matched the accomplishment with a 7 1/4-length stroll in the 5 1/2-furlong contest. Friday’s race was moved off the turf and contested on a fast main track.
Hat Creek Racing’s Averly Jane made every pole a winning one in the $120,000 Skidmore Stakes. The filly, who was listed as a main-track only entrant, bested the boys for the second time while maintaining a perfect record through three career starts.
One of three Wesley Ward-trained entrants, along with Golden Bell and Overbore , Averly Jane romped to an 8 3/4-length debut score April 15 at Keeneland before topping her male counterparts in the April 28 Kentucky Juvenile Stakes contested on a sloppy main track at Churchill Downs.
With returning pilot Tyler Gaffalione in the irons, Averly Jane broke straight and sharp, opening up a three-length lead in the first few strides en route to setting a swift opening quarter-mile in :21.96.
The Midshipman bay maintained her lead through the turn with Golden Bell , also a main-track only entrant, tracking her speed in front of the stalking Pure Panic and Baytown Warrior as the half-mile ticked by in :45 flat.
Averly Jane cornered perfectly, opening up a five-length lead at the stretch call, and stayed on strong to the wire for her 7 1/4-length score in a final time of 1:03.79.
Averly Jane wins the Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga
“When you’re riding for Wesley Ward, you know they have speed and just hopefully they last and today, she did,” Gaffalione said. “She broke on top and I was able to just put my hands down and let her relax and she did everything on her own. She’s a rocket. I had plenty left in the tank. We could have went a lot quicker even early on but we only used what we needed.”
Gaffalione said Averly Jane showed marked improvement from her Kentucky Juvenile score.
“It’s a night-and-day difference. Today, she was much more forward,” Gaffalione said. “She grew up and matured a little bit and I’m looking forward to down the road.”
Pure Panic completed the exacta by three-quarters of a length over the Ward-trained Overbore, who was full of run down the lane for Joel Rosario.
Ward captured last year’s Skidmore with Golden Pal , who exited that effort to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (GT2) at Keeneland. Earlier today, Golden Pal, winner of the Quick Call (G3T) on Saratoga’s opening day, ran seventh in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) at York.
Although Ward said the team, led by Hat Creek Racing’s Gatewood Bell, had considered the seven-furlong $300,000 Spinaway (G1) Sept. 5 for Averly Jane, the conditioner said the filly is likely to target the Darley Alcibiades (G1) Oct. 8 at Keeneland.
“She’s a nice filly. We were kind of going back and forth with the Spinaway,” Ward said. “We’ll talk it over with Gatewood Bell. He picked her out and he does a great job picking horses out.
“We were thinking seriously about the Spinaway, but I was questioning my ability to train one off the layoff going seven-eighths,” he added, with a laugh. “She ran pretty big today.”
A $35,000 purchase at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale from the consignment of Maine Chance Farm, Everly Jane was purchased by Newt Dobbs.
Sh Sh Shakin’s three foals to race are all winners. Her last reported foal is a yearling Brody’s Cause colt.
Bred in Kentucky by the University of Kentucky, Averly Jane banked $66,000 in victory while maintaining her perfect record. Sent to post as the 8-5 mutuel favorite, Averly Jane returned $5.20 for a $2 win ticket.
Averly Jane is one of three winners from her dam. Besides her two stakes winners, her other winner is the Japan-based Autista (Bullet Train ). The dam also has an unnamed yearling colt by Brody’s Cause .