Saturday, January 18, 2014
Updated: January 20, 3:20 PM ET
Shakin It Up takes Strub
By Jack Shinar
Malibu Stakes winner Shakin It Up answered doubts about his ability around two turns when he overpowered stablemate Govenor Charlie to give trainer Bob Baffert the exacta in the $200,000 Strub Stakes Jan. 18 at Santa Anita Park.
Shakin It Up, who earned a 106 Beyer figure with his half-length tally in the Dec. 26 Malibu at seven furlongs, was even more impressive in the Strub. The son of Midnight Lute motored from third off the far turn to win as much the best by 2 ¼ lengths in a sharp time of 1:41.86 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast track.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith earned his first Strub victory aboard the dark bay colt, who is owned by his breeder, Mike Pegram, in partnership with Dennis Cardoza. Pegram also bred the Govenor Charlie, another son of Midnight Lute who was making his first start since struggling home eighth of nine in the Preakness stakes May 18.
Baffert won the Strub for a fifth time and the second year in a row following Guilt Trip in 2013.
The Strub, restricted to 4-year-olds, was shortened this year from 1 1/8 miles and it replaced the San Fernando Stakes, previously a grade II, on the Santa Anita stakes calendar.
In his only previous try around two turns, Shakin It Up finished a well-beaten fourth in the Sunland Derby last March, a race won in impressive style by Govenor Charlie. Shakin It Up went to the sidelines after that and didn't return to action until winning the Malibu. Even his Hall of Fame conditioner had some doubt about his ability to handle two turns.
"He looked really great last year," said Baffert of Shakin It Up. "But when he came back from Sunland he wasn't right. So we turned him out and he's different horse, very mature.
"I was really proud of Govenor Chalrie and the way he came back," Baffert added. "My other horse [Shakin It up], I wasn't sure he'd get two turns. It was really impressive, a very big effort today."
Hear the Ghost, last year's San Felipe Stakes winner, was the 7-5 choice in the eight-horse field for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The Ghostzapper gelding was coming off a good closing second in the Native Diver Stakes on the Betfair Hollywood Park Cushion Track Dec. 14 and was poised for big effort.
Heir of Storm, breaking from the outside, took the early lead, clearing Govenor Charlie heading into the clubhouse turn as Shakin It Up stalked off the rail in third. Heir of Storm showed the way through swift splits of :23.98, :47.06, and 1:10.73 for six furlongs before Govenor Charlie, advancing along the inside for Martin Garcia, took over coming out of the final turn.
The advantage was short-lived, however, as Shakin It Up, urged on by Smith while three deep in upper stretch, took over. Shakin It Up led by 1 ½ lengths at the eighth pole and continued to pour it under steady handling.
"I was really impressed," said Smith, who was happy with Shakin It Up's good break. "My main concern was the distance today. He had done it once, and didn't do so good. Of course, he had a lot of time off after that so I don't know if that had something to do with it [his doing better today]. He certainly has developed into a bigger, stronger colt.
"I was able to get out, get in good position and then make my move, and I may have even gunned him a little early; but man, did he respond."
Govenor Charlie was a clear second by 2 ¼ lengths over the late-running Hear the Ghost, who was never a threat under Corey Nakatani. Another Hollendorfer trainee, Zeewat, took fourth, followed by Dice Flavor, Heir of Storm, Say Ow, and Rookie Sensation.
Shakin It Up, out of the Vindication mare Silver Bullet Moon, won for the fourth time in seven stars with one second and one third. He has amassed $487,600 in earnings.
He carried 118 pounds and paid $8.20, $5, and $3.20 as the second choice. Govenor Charlie paid $7.60 and $4.40 and was part of a $53.20 exacta, while Hear the Ghost paid $2.60.