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Shagaf Offers Nice Pedigree in Kentucky Derby 142

Shagaf Offers Nice Pedigree in Kentucky Derby 142 by Reinier Macatangay: Pedigree handicappers searching for a distance-oriented horse will find one in Shadwell Stable’s Shagaf, a longshot contender in the Kentucky Derby (GI) at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Because of his fifth-place finish in the Wood Memorial Stakes (GI) at Aqueduct, supporters are looking at 20-1 odds or higher at post time.

Shagaf Horse Kentucky Derby 2016

Pedigree handicappers searching for a distance-oriented horse will find one in Shadwell Stable’s Shagaf, a longshot contender in the Kentucky Derby (GI) at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Photo: Coady Photography

Trained by Chad Brown, Shagaf gives bettors familiar names to back, if nothing else. The well-bred colt compiled three wins out of four starts in his short career, although none of his three wins were particularly blazing.

Shagaf won by six lengths in his career debut in an Aqueduct maiden race. Two months later, the son of Bernardini won a Gulfstream optional claimer by two lengths, under noticeable urging. Few handicappers will knock a horse who won his first two career starts, especially when both wins came at decent racetracks.

One race later in the Gotham Stakes (GIII), Shagaf saved ground on the golden Aqueduct rail, before switching out for the stretch drive and mowing down the need-the-lead type Laoban, who had the benefit of the rail too. Give Shagaf some points for rallying on the outside late, even if Laoban was tired from the fast fractions.

Shagaf earned a 111 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his Gotham performance, which looks okay compared to the other prep races, but does not overly impress anyone either. For comparison, one week later Destin won the Tampa Bay Derby (GII) with a 114 and Danzing Candy scored a 117 in the San Felipe Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita.

Then, Shagaf threw an average race in the aforementioned Wood Memorial over a muddy dirt track. Supporters will point to the track condition as an excuse, despite the fact most Bernardini progeny are bred to handle the off-going.

Plus, it must be noted Matt King Coal softened up the eventual winner Outwork, yet no horse passed him in the stretch. But, the argument that the track favored the inside again, and Shagaf’s run came wide, might make sense.

Shagaf sports a nice pedigree at least.

As a son of Bernardini out of an Unbridled’s Song mare, Shagaf appears bred for the 10-furlong distance on both top and bottom. Bernardini broke slow out of the gate as a sire, but recently, has begun to pick up momentum. In his own career, he ran a fine second in the 10-furlong 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) to Invasor.

On the dam side, Muhaawara won a two-turn stakes at Aqueduct to close out her career. The second dam Habibti captured the Hollywood Starlet (GI) and Del Mar Debutante (GI) in her 2-year-old season. The 3-year-old season lacked any big wins, but she did place in the Las Virgenes (GI), Santa Anita Oaks (GI) and Kentucky Oaks (GI).

The trainer sounds confident in Shagaf’s longer-distance potential.

“I don’t see any way that this horse isn’t made to go a mile-and-a-quarter or farther, between his pedigree and the way he looks and trains,” Brown said. “I’m confident he’ll get the distance and I love the way he’s training.”

No trainer ever says anything bad about their Derby contender, so take those comments with a grain of salt. Still, hearing confidence from the connections is always nice when picking a horse.

Bettors who like Shagaf will get their value, while others handicappers will stay away because some horses need to be eliminated. Regardless, Shagaf earned his chance in the Run for the Roses and will make his run at history.

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