Barker Excited To Be On Kentucky Derby Trail With New York-Bred Shipsational

Iris Smith Stable’s multiple New York-bred stakes winner Shipsational rallied to finish second in Saturday’s Grade 3 Sam. F. Davis at Florida’s Tampa Bay Downs, picking up four Kentucky Derby qualifying points in his open company debut.

Trained by Eddie Barker and piloted by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, Shipsational closed from eighth position in the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis to finish 3 3/4 lengths back of the victorious Classic Causeway, who graduated impressively on debut in September at Saratoga Race Course.

Barker said he was impressed by the effort from Shipsational.

“Javier said that he broke behind the field a little bit yesterday just because he had his head cocked to the left, which didn’t help him,” Barker said. “Then on the backside the guy inside of him kept carrying him out. We ended up going six-wide on the turn and all that. But you know what? He was the only horse running at the end. It was a big effort. The thing about him is that he’s got such a long, efficient stride.”

Barker said Shipsational will stay in Florida and target the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 12 which offers 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.

“I’m really excited, and I’m excited for the owner, too,” Barker said. “She’s a wonderful person. I’ve been trainer for her for about three or four years, and I trained for her father-in-law, Seymour Smith, for seven or eight years. We won a lot of races together. She’s a really nice person and she deserved to get a really nice horse. I think we got one for her.”

The Midshipman colt graduated by 6 3/4 lengths at first asking in July at Saratoga, sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over a sloppy and sealed main track. Two starts later the talented chestnut stalked and pounced to victory in the seven-furlong Bertram F. Bongard in September over a fast Big Sandy. Shipsational followed with a gate-to-wire score on Oct. 30 in the one-turn mile Sleepy Hollow over a sloppy and sealed Belmont main track to best Overstep, a well-regarded $360,000 yearling sale purchase trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.

Barker said he’s thrilled that Shipsational was able to step up against open company, while passing the two-turn test.

“This is exciting. It really is. In all my years I’ve never had a horse on the Derby trail. He had a lot to prove (in the Sam F. Davis),” Barker said. “We ran against good New York-breds. Todd Pletcher had the horse we beat [in the Sleepy Hollow] that was a really good Into Mischief colt. Todd was very high on him. We had to run against stakes horses yesterday and he had to prove himself, which he did. He’d never been around two turn and he handled that. We checked off a lot of boxes yesterday.”

Barker said Shipsational, who garnered an 83 Beyer, exited the race in good order.

“He came back really good. Nothing bothers that horse, it really doesn’t. He’s got the mind of a 10-year-old,” Barker said. “We’re going to go to the Tampa Bay Derby and then we’ll see. We’ll play it by ear after that. He’s kind of a light-framed horse. He’s not a big horse, but he’s just so efficient.”

Barker said he will return to New York Monday night to look after his Belmont string, while his assistant, Joe Falcone, will stay in Tampa with Shipsational and four other trainees, including the recent maiden winner Idaka.

“Joe’s been working for me for 25 years and he’s a really good guy and an exceptionally good rider. He really is; he’s old school,” Barker said. “The horses all look good here. We’ve only run one other horse and she won [Idaka on Jan. 19], so I feel very comfortable leaving this horse in his care.”

Barker, still in search of a graded win, said Shipsational is his best horse since the popular graded stakes placed Yorkiepoo Princess, who posted a record of 27-7-3-2 for purse earnings of $551,177 led by stakes scores at Aqueduct in the 2016 Furlough, 2017 Ruthless, 2017 Busher, and 2018 Autumn Days.

“Yorkiepoo Princess was second in the [2017, Grade 2] Charles Town Oaks and she ran in those stakes in New York. She was really nice. I had a couple of really nice horses, but in graded stakes I’ve run four seconds,” said Barker, with a laugh.

Barker’s other horses to complete the exacta in graded stakes are Kristen’s Baby [1994 Grade 3 Lawrence Realization Handicap at Belmont] and Stake [2004 Grade 3 Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct].

Bred in New York by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone, Shipsational is out of the Thunder Gulch mare Regal Approach, who is a half-sister to 2015 Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap winner Mr Maybe.

Saturday’s 11-race card at Tampa Bay boasted plenty of New York flair with Irad Ortiz, Jr. winning five races, including the Sam F. Davis with Classic Causeway; the Suncoast aboard Grade 2 Demoiselle-winner Nest for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher; and the Pelican with New York-bred Bank On Shea for conditioner Carlos David.

In addition, four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, who has won seven straight NYRA year-end trainer titles, notched three wins on the Tampa card and captured two more races Saturday across state at Gulfstream Park.

The post Barker Excited To Be On Kentucky Derby Trail With New York-Bred Shipsational appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.