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Sharing Shared Account
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This article accompanies the previous article: Connecting Past to Present, dated May 16, 2011

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The Preakness Stakes will be garnering most of the attention this Saturday, but I will also be focused on the Gallorrette Handicap to watch Sagamore Farm’s mare, Shared Account. 

This bay mare foaled in 2006 is by Pleasantly Perfect, and out of Silk N’ Sapphire, by champion sire, Smart Strike.  It is not surprising this William Carl-bred horse is a talented horse on Turf, because her broodmare sire’s offspring find great success on Turf and all-weather tracks.

It was shortly after her Lake Placid Stakes victory, in July 2009, when she defeated Keertana, that I discovered the then three year old filly.  Disappointed that I missed her victory by only a few days, I awaited her next start in the Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park, facing a strong field including Gozzip Girl, Don’t Forget Gil, and common ‘rival’, Keertana.

My eyes filled with tears when Shared Account appeared in the post parade, with her jockey donning the Sagamore hot pink diamonds. (Not unlike my birthday cake from the year before decorated with hot pink diamond icing and my Native Dancer Breyer Stablemate!) 

Shared Account broke from the sixth gate out of this eight horse field, and immediately showed me she was something special.  Right away, she settled into her fluid, relaxed stride that eats up a vast amount of the Turf below.  Out of the first turn, she moved up from second to set the early fractions of :26.24, and :52.36 for the half.  Jockey Edgar Prado placed her in a position on the rail, where I could easily see her throughout the entire running of the race.  I was mesmerized by those strides of hers that seemed to come with utmost simplicity. 

Without urging from her rider, she conspicuously picked up the pace when Don’t Forget Gil came onto her hip, into the final turn.  With the rest of the field now under urging from their riders, Edgar Prado waited to go to the whip with Shared Account, whose lead did not decrease around that sweeping turn.  It was only when she reached the top of the stretch that he asked her for all she had.  Hanging on to the edge of my sofa, in my hot pink outfit, I cheered for “my girl”, who was now neck and neck with Keertana for the lead as they neared the wire.

Shared Account won her stretch-battle over Keertana, pulling away, but Miss World was passing with an impact that could not be held off. 

Despite coming in second by nearly three lengths, I was ecstatic, and proud of this promising filly.  She showed absolute excellence during the running of the Garden City Stakes, and I knew she was going to be the new Sagamore Farm’s first great racehorse.  Crying tears of joy and yelling, “She came in second!”  She might as well have won by twenty lengths.

Next time out, at Keeneland, she placed in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup to Hot Cha Cha, and got even with Miss World, who placed fourth, but was moved up to third due to the disqualification of Gozzip Girl.  I was not deterred by her second straight loss, anticipating all the great wins in this filly’s future.

Her first start of 2010 in the Gallorette Handicap on Preakness day resulted in a disappointing fourth place behind Rainbow View. No excuses to be found.

A short time following her defeat, Shared Account rebounded with a solid victory in the All Along Stakes. Graham Motion then shipped her to Saratoga, where Native Dancer first made his name famous.  It seemed like a dream; everything I enjoyed about horseracing was crammed into her next start, the Diana Stakes:  Saratoga and Sagamore Farm! It doesn’t get any better than that!

She was facing the strongest field possible, made up of leading Breeders’ Cup contenders, Proviso (GB), Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner, Forever Together, Dynaslew, who Shared Account had beaten last time out; Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Maram, Phola, and My Princess Jess.

Despite her surprisingly high odds of 11-1, I saw no indication that she was outclassed in this race.  I was confident in her ability to keep up with any horse in this field, and was hoping she could prove so to everyone else.  Before the race, I sensed the nervousness that is usually felt before a more important race such as the Kentucky Derby or the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  I could only imagine how glorious a win for Shared Account would be at Saratoga, in a way, bringing Native Dancer back to life.

She ran like a total pro, breaking cleanly from gate six, and immediately settling into her perfect stride.  Shared Account was placed fourth behind Proviso (GB) positioned in third by jockey Mike Smith.  On the backstretch, Shared Account fell back two lengths from Proviso (GB) in a tranquil manner.  She ran onward smoothly, but turned it on when Forever Together and another horse ran up on both sides.  Without urging from Edgar Prado, Shared Account began clipping off horses, and my heart leapt as she went four wide around the final turn, right up there with the Breeders’ Cup winners, and the big Grade One winners-right where she should be!

In mid-stretch, Forever Together drifted wide at Shared Account, but the bay filly resiliently powered on, gaining on Proviso (GB) with every behemoth stride she took, falling a neck short at the wire, but beating out Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner, Forever Together by a nose.  I never once looked at her second place in the Diana Stakes as a defeat, but looked at the race with a great amount of excitement and joy to see this outstanding filly perform well among the top in the world.

Following her strong performance in the Diana Stakes, she placed fifth in the Flower Bowl Invitational.  Shortly after, it was announced she was to race against the world’s top female Turf horses in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.  Sagamore Farm’s history at Churchill Downs for the “big” races, many have claimed a ‘curse’ lay upon the Maryland farm, for they have never had a horse win under the twin spires. Superstition seeped to the morning line odds for the mare, going off at 40-1.

Heavily disagreeing with the lack of respect given to Shared Account, I couldn’t shake the feeling this was a quality contender for winning the Filly and Mare Turf. There was a brief moment when I had to question if I was watching this mare through rose-colored glasses.  Was she truly just an average stakes performer as the odds implied? Any slight doubt disappeared the brief moment I caught a glimpse of her in the paddock.  She was my winner.  No doubts.

In the Filly and Mare Turf, she was strong and professional from her first step out of the gates.  Jockey Edgar Prado smartly placed her in a good fourth position on the rail, led by Plumania (GB), and neck and neck for third with Harmonious to the distant outside.  The fractions were slow, dooming the horses off the pace.  After three-fourths of a mile was run, riders began urging their mounts to pick up the pace.  With the surrounding horses quickening, Shared Account maintained her fourth place without asking.

Straightening into the homestretch below the twin spires, Shared Account was surrounded by horses running for the lead, being shoved around by the mares to the inside and outside.  Edgar Prado waited for a small opening to the front, and gunned his mount through.  As Midday (GB) matched Shared Account’s surge down the stretch, both mares pulled away from the field by a length. It was clear this was to be a fight to the wire.  Shared Account was sustaining a neck lead over her rival, the favorite Midday (GB).  As she held off the European invader, Keertana came with a bold, late closing kick.  However, Shared Account prevailed at the wire, with Midday (GB) a neck behind in second, and Keertana finished a neck short in third.

As Shared Account galloped out triumphantly over the greatest Turf mares in the world, I stood and raised my arms to the sky, jumping and yelling with tears of joy. Shared Account had reached the apogee of the racing world; she had run that elusive perfect race for which I had been patiently awaiting. As the night sky dropped behind the illuminated twin spires, Shared Account broke the Sagamore Farm curse, hopefully opening up the door for future Sagamore greats.

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