LEXINGTON, Ky. – Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Westerberg’s Golden Pal rocketed to the lead leaving the starting gate and never was pressured in coasting to a 4 3⁄4-length victory in the 26th running of the $350,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up.
Trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., the winner completed the 5 1⁄2 furlongs on a turf course rated as good in 1:02.21. It is the fourth Shakertown victory for Ward, who won previously with Undrafted in 2016 and with Bound for Nowhere in 2018 and 2021.
A two-time Breeders’ Cup winner, including the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) victory here in 2020, Golden Pal had a daylight advantage a few jumps out of the gate and led the field of 10 through fractions of :20.94 and :43.58 and it was game over.
In making his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Del Mar in November, Golden Pal improved his record to 9-6-2-0 with six stakes victories. Five have come in graded events.
A Keeneland sales graduate, Golden Pal is a 4-year-old Florida-bred son of Uncle Mo out of the Midshipman mare Lady Shipman. The victory was worth $174,375 and improved Golden Pal’s earnings to $1,473,431.
Golden Pal returned $3.20, $3 and $2.60. Johnny Unleashed, ridden by Gerardo Corrales, returned $26.40 and $9.80 with Gear Jockey finishing three-quarters of a length back in third under Brian Hernandez Jr., and returning $4.60 to show.
Diamond Oops finished another neck back in fourth and was followed in order by The Lir Jet (IRE), Just Might, Barraza, Natural Power (IRE), Chess Master and Filo Di Arianna (BRZ).
Click here for a replay of the race and the post-race interview with winning connections.
Quotes from the $350,000 Shakertown (G2)
Irad Ortiz Jr. (winning rider of Golden Pal)
“He’s a really fast horse out of the gate. (Trainer) Wesley (Ward) did a great job with him since Day one. They taught him right, what he has to do. He’s a really nice horse. I did ask him (at the top of the stretch) and he responded really well. Then I looked around – and I’m already right there close to the wire. So I wrapped him up.”
Wesley Ward (winning trainer)
“This is the fastest of the fast. He’s just blessed with speed and agility. He moves like a cat; he’s so quick. For a big, sturdy horse like he is – he’s just a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”
On whether the King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot in England is the next target
“That’s where we’re headed.”
Chris Phelps (co-owner of 70-1 runner-up Johnny Unleashed)
“It felt like we won. To be in a stakes race like this and to be second to a top-rated horse is absolutely fabulous. We are going to celebrate like we won.”
Brian Hernandez Jr. (rider of third-place finisher Gear Jockey)
“We had a great trip. We were down inside, and the winner was just a really fast horse. Our horse came along and ran a big third, so we have to be proud of him. There were two fast horses in front of us and they didn’t really come back to us. Our horse ran his race.”
Keeneland Press Release
Photo: Golden Pal (Coady Photography)