Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sir Shackleton son tops maiden Hill in fourth climb

Shackleton Hill, a gelding I tipped as a possible "Second Chance Deal" after he failed to meet reserve price at last year's Keeneland April auction of 2-year-olds in training, broke maiden in his fourth lifetime start this afternoon at Woodbine in Canada.

The bay son of Sir Shackleton-Keepers Hill, by Danehill, was sent off as the second-favorite at odds of 11/5, but scored with the style and by the sort of daylight more appropriate of an even-money choice. Third in his last-out at a higher claiming level, he was dropped to a $12,500 tag and rolled to victory by a widening 5 1/2 lengths despite jockey Luis Contreras circling the leaders in the sixth-path around the turn for home. Final time for five furlongs on Polytrack was a fairly brisk 57.93; the track record held by Dublin Lane is 56.41.

Steve Attard trains the horse for owner Sheldon Pettle.

Shackleton Hill failed to sell at KEEAPR 2010 when the top bid of $27,000 didn't meet his seller's reserve price.

When tabbing the already-named Shackleton Hill as a Second Chance Deal a year ago (that is, the best of the horses that didn't sell at Keeneland, but might be available at a later auction or via private purchase), I admitted that I wasn't really sure what his Kentucky breeder, Kilboy Estate Ltd., was really hoping to achieve with the mating. His sire was a dirt horse with a pair of track records sprinting. His dam was a blacktype-placed turf runner from a decidedly grass-oriented extended female family boasting the likes of G1 lawn-lover AQUARRELISTE, G3 winners AUSRTALIE, ART BLEU, ACOMA, and AGATHE, and many top-class European grass horses. ... Of added interest, this is also the female family of French turf G1-winner ARCANGUES, whose most historic victory was in fact on dirt in the States, upsetting a star-studded 1993 Breeders' Cup Classic field (Bertrando, Best Pal, Devil His Due, Marquetry, Miner's Mark, Colonial Affair, Diazo, etc.) at odds of 133/1.

At any rate, I took a blog-published guess that this mating might produce a synthetic-track horse. Shackleton Hill has now collected a win and a show finish on Polytrack at top-class Woodbine, earning $14,313. His effort today certainly looked like one from which the horse has every right to move forward, and with a sprint record-setting sire and a turf-sprinting dam, it would be good to see him try more of these shorter races on both synthetic and grass.

With the victory, Shackleton Hill becomes winner No. 88 from my 187-horse list of sales selections at various 2010 juvenile auctions. That's 47.1 percent.

The class nearly collected another new winner early in the day at Belmont. There, second-timer Conway Hillbilly, who was unplaced in his only start at 2, tried the turf in his 3-year-old unveiling and nearly wired a field of $50K-$40K maiden-claimers. He finished second by a nose over "firster" Manresa Road, three-quarters in arrears of 3/2 favorite Associate, in a solid time of 1:21.36 for seven furlongs.

Later this evening, I'm First, who contrary to his name was no better than third (twice) in five tries at age 2, makes his 3-year-old debut and looks to become winner No. 89 in a first-on-turf effort among modest maiden-claimers at Colonial Downs.

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