Jerkens Shares Thoughts on Shaman Ghost, Effinex, and Unified

Jerkens Shares Thoughts on Shaman Ghost, Effinex, and Unified

Photo by NYRA/Coglianese Photos

NYRA Press Release: Stronach Stable’s Shaman Ghost has trained well following his Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational win on June 11, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said on Saturday morning, and is on target for a possible start in the Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban on July 9 at Belmont Park.

“We’re not 100% sure we’re going to run but we’re nominated,” said Jerkens. “I think it’s a good spot for him and there really isn’t anything else around. It seems like the logical spot. We’re leaning towards running as opposed to not running, let’s put it that way.”

Shaman Ghost returned from a nearly ten-month layoff after recovering from ankle surgery to finish an encouraging third in his 4-year-old debut against optional claimers on May 21, his first start since joining Jerkens’ Palm Meadows string in December, before coming back the following month with a 4 ¼-length victory in the 1 ½-mile Brooklyn.

“All of a sudden, he just clicked,” Jerkens said. “I really liked him [going into the Brooklyn]. I thought he was going to run big in there. I thought his comeback race was terrific and it all worked out. He’s a good quality horse. It’s hard to say that he’s the cream of the crop of the handicap division but I think he can be. He definitely has the quality for it.”

Shaman Ghost was trained by Brian Lynch during his 2- and 3-year-old campaigns, the latter of which included a four-race win streak that culminated in a 1 ¼-length victory in the Queens Plate and a second-place finish in the Prince of Wales, the first and second legs of the Canadian Triple Crown.

“When you go through the conditions like he did last year when Brian had him, he wasn’t at any easy meets either,” Jerkens said. “He was at Gulfstream and Keeneland and they took him to Canada to run in those big Canadian races. You don’t run through conditions like that unless you’ve got a lot of ability.”

Jerkens reported that Tri-Bone Stable’s reigning New York Horse of the Year Effinex has emerged from his sixth-place finish in last weekend’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster in good condition and is also a possibility for the Suburban, although the Grade 1 winner’s most recent race still has the trainer at a bit of a loss.

“We don’t know why he didn’t run any good the other night,” he said. “I don’t see anything. I can’t understand that effort. He got hung out a little wide. Some horses, if they get hung out too wide and they’re chasing them wide like that, they get discouraged easy. I think that’s likely what happened.”

Likewise, Centennial Farm’s Unified has been in good order after suffering the first defeat of his career in the Grade 3 Pegasus last Saturday, Jerkens said, although there are no immediate plans for 3-year-old Candy Ride colt.

“He galloped yesterday just as good as a horse can gallop. Nothing showed up on the scope, nothing showed up on his legs,” he said. “The track was awful slow, I think that may have had something to do with it. He’s been used to the tracks he’s ran on and trained on in the last three months have been fast. When you get on a track that’s loose like that out of the blue, they react to it and get tired quick.”

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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