Sophomore turf sensation Sharing has not let the pandemic stop her from wracking up the frequent flier miles in 2020. In what is her second trip across country to California in less than 30 days, the daughter of Speightstown will have to shake off any residual jet lag when she takes on a field of nine others in the $300,000 American Oaks (G1T) Dec. 26 at Santa Anita Park.
A grade 1 winner of more than $1.05 million in purses, Sharing’s greatest triumph came at Santa Anita Park in 2019 when she took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to cap off her 2-year-old campaign. While she’s only made four starts in 2020, the Maryland-bred has shown continued strength on the grass, winning the May 23 Tepin Stakes and the Sept. 4 Edgewood Stakes Presented by Forcht Bank (G2T) at Churchill Downs, as well as running second in the Coronation Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot June 20 for trainer Graham Motion. The filly most recently finished fourth in the Nov. 29 Matriarch Stakes (G1T) at Del Mar, where she was beaten by only three-quarters of a length.
“Sharing has had a very light campaign this year and she has predominantly raced over a mile,” said Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, who owns the filly in partnership with Gainesway Stable. “We’ve had to pivot a few times throughout the season and we thought she ran a dynamite race against older fillies in the Matriarch. It was unfortunate that she didn’t hit the frame. She was beaten by three-quarters of a length and ended up fourth. But it was a dynamite effort.
“We sent her back to Fair Hill with the thought in the back of our mind and Graham’s mind that if she came out of the Matriarch in good order and trained accordingly, we would consider putting her back on a plane and sending her back to California in a time span of about three weeks. She obliged, trained very well, and Tex Sutton (Equine Air Transportation) was gracious enough to accommodate our need to get to California from Maryland. She arrived last Saturday in good order.”
Wellman said Sharing looks in fine form ahead of Saturday’s 1 1/4-mile test and his only concern for his filly’s chances in the race lie with the distance. While she’s never won beyond 1 1/16 miles, Sharing’s pedigree suggests that she could get the distance if she gets the proper trip.
“The big question mark for her is the mile and a quarter,” said Wellman. “We thought since we’d had trouble stringing together consecutive races this season, while we had her right this was a good opportunity for us to run in a grade 1 on a course we know she likes and against her age group. The mile and a quarter distance should give us a good idea about how to structure her campaign for next season. Because it starts on the downhill, that does tend to make it a bit easier in terms of distance, but we will get a good gauge on whether she can stretch out beyond a mile next year.
“There is not much to suggest she shouldn’t get beyond the mile. Speightstown has had several winners at the mile and a quarter on the grass. Of course her dam, Shared Account, is also by Pleasantly Perfect—who is a classic influence—and Shared Account won the (Emirates Airline) Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1T) which was a mile and three eighths. We’re cautiously optimistic, but the most important thing is she’s doing exceptionally well.”
Sharing will break from post 9 with Johnny Velazquez in the irons.
Eclipse Thoroughbred will also be well represented by the Paddy Gallagher-trained Red Lark, who comes off a close fourth-place finish in the Oct. 10 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes Presented by Dixiana (G1T) at Keeneland. Based in California, the filly earned her first grade 1 win Aug. 22 when she took the Del Mar Oaks (G1T) at Del Mar.
“Red Lark has been a delight to have in the barn,” said Wellman. “We bought her at the end of her 2-year-old year in Europe. She came from a great program, from Anthony Rogers of Airlie Stud, who we’ve purchased several good horses form over the years and imported to the states with Paddy Gallagher. Between Paddy and Anthony we thought she’d be a good fit for California turf racing. I hate to use the term ‘overachiever,’ but she’s really turned into a phenomenal filly. She worked her way through the ranks and she was graded stakes placed against older fillies midway through the year. She had some hard luck in a few graded races, but she was just getting beat by a length or two at the most and we were making some excuses for her. But all that led us to have the confidence to run her in the Del Mar Oaks and she had a breakout performance that day. It was a monumental feeling to win a race like that with a filly like her.”
Aside from her Feb. 9 maiden win, the Del Mar Oaks has been the only other victory for Red Lark this season. Despite her struggles, the daughter of Epaulette has been consistent in graded company, running second in the June 20 Wilshire Stakes (G3T) and fourth in the May 30 Honeymoon Stakes (G3T)—both at Santa Anita.
Drayden Van Dyke will have the call on Red Lark in the American Oaks and the pair will break from the rail.
“Paddy has done a remarkable job developing her over the course of her campaign,” said Wellman. “Drayden Van Dyke has the keys to her ignition. We’re confident she can get the mile and a quarter. She’s proven at the grade 1 level over a mile and an eighth and this is her home course.”
While Wellman admits it will be nerve-wracking to run both fillies against each other, he’s confident that the differences in their respective running styles will afford them each the chance to snag a win without having to worry about interfering with one another on the track.
“We hope Sharing will be prominent throughout, take it to them early and often, and separate herself in the stretch,” said Wellman. “We think Red Lark will be relaxed at the back of the pack and then come flying home. It’s special to have two fillies of this caliber line up against one another.
“It’s always tough to run two upper-echelon fillies against one another. They both have a special place in my heart. We’ve avoided running them against each other this year, but now it’s time for the showdown. Both of these fillies are deserving of the opportunity to run and thankfully, they have contrasting styles. They won’t compromise one another in the strategy of the race so I just hope they’re both in the thick of it when the real running starts. May the best one win.”
Eastern-based Chad Brown will send out his own pair of contenders with English-bred Capital Structure—who exits a solid allowance win going 1 1/16 miles on turf at Belmont Park Oct. 25—and Duopoly, a daughter of Animal Kingdom who won the Nov. 15 Winter Memories Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack last out.
Miss Addie Pray, Going to Vegas, Luck Money, Guitty, California Kook, and Neige Blanche complete the field.
ENTRIES: AMERICAN OAKS (G1T)
Santa Anita Park, Saturday, December 26, 2020, Race 9
|1||1Red Lark (IRE)||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Patrick Gallagher||10/1|
|2||2Miss Addie Pray (KY)||Mike E. Smith||124||Patrick Gallagher||30/1|
|3||3Capital Structure (GB)||Joel Rosario||124||Chad C. Brown||4/1|
|4||4Going to Vegas (KY)||Mario Gutierrez||124||Richard Baltas||8/1|
|5||5Luck Money (KY)||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||124||Arnaud Delacour||7/2|
|6||6Guitty (FR)||Juan J. Hernandez||124||Leonard Powell||20/1|
|7||7California Kook (CA)||Ricardo Gonzalez||124||Peter Miller||12/1|
|8||8Duopoly (KY)||Flavien Prat||124||Chad C. Brown||4/1|
|9||9Sharing (MD)||John R. Velazquez||124||H. Graham Motion||3/1|
|10||10Neige Blanche (FR)||UMBERTO RISPOLI||124||Leonard Powell||12/1|