Seymourdini, Shagaf Impress in Aqueduct Maiden Races

Seymourdini, Shagaf Impress in Aqueduct Maiden Races

On November 22nd, a pair of one-mile maiden special weights for 2yos were held at Aqueduct, and both yielded impressive and dominating winners that look poised to join the Kentucky Derby trail in the near future.

The first of the two races was the fourth on the card, and Seymourdini was the odds-on favorite at 0.45-1. Coming off of two consecutive half-length defeats in maiden company, including a loss to future Nashua Stakes (gr. III) winner Mohaymen, Seymourdini was expected to win in easy fashion on Sunday and did so impressively. With Jose Ortiz in the saddle for trainer Linda Rice, Seymourdini had no trouble grabbing the lead through modest fractions of :23.53 and :47.49, then began to effortlessly open up a commanding lead as the field moved around the turn. In the blink of an eye, Seymourdini was six lengths in front, and he continued to extend his advantage under a light hand ride to win by nine lengths.

Granted, the final time of 1:38.40 seconds wasn’t very fast, but there’s really no way that words can describe how easily Seymourdini won this race. Around the turn and in the homestretch, it seemed as though Ortiz could have shaken the reins at him and won by as many lengths as he pleased. Even more impressive was the fact that the runner-up and third-place finishers–who were separated by a nose–finished 12 1/2 lengths in front of the rest of the field, meaning that Seymourdini completely dominated his opposition. Time will tell how talented his opposition proves to be (perhaps Seymourdini simply encountered a weak field), but given his good run against Mohaymen, and given how easily he won on Sunday, I think we’re going to hear a lot from Seymourdini during the early Kentucky Derby prep races at Aqueduct this winter.

But as impressive as Seymourdini was, he was arguably overshadowed by Shagaf, who posted a faster final time in the sixth race. A first-time starter trained by Chad Brown, Shagaf flashed good tactical speed while tracking fractions of :23.32 and :46.98, and after dropping back slightly on the turn–he was racing inside and didn’t seem to care for having dirt kicked in his face–he unleashed a strong burst of speed when guided to the outside in the homestretch and drew off under urging to win by six lengths in the time of 1:37.61 seconds.

So which colt ran better? That’s hard to say. Shagaf posted faster fractions and came home faster to post a quicker time, but Seymourdini won his race in easier fashion. But while Seymourdini got an easy trip setting modest fractions, Shagaf had a trickier trip rating inside of horses and having to deal with kickback on the turn.

In any case, both Seymourdini and Shagaf have stamped themselves as horses to watch during the next few months. As sons of Bernardini, they have the pedigrees to handle longer distances, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they meet up in the Jerome Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct in early January. If they do, it will be fascinating to see how they fare against each other!

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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 Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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