Godolphin’s Shared Sense ‘Really Has Done No Wrong’ Ahead Of Ellis Park Derby

A missed break. A pace scenario that fails to materialize. An upstart contender who uncorks the race of their life.

Any of the above of scenarios can undo even the most overwhelming of favorites, which is why horsepeople often remind everyone that races are conducted on the track, not on paper. All that being said, Sunday’s $200,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Derby features an entity that would need an exceptional amount of circumstances to converge to keep it from declaring victory on the day.

While Bruce Lunsford’s homebred colt Art Collector looms as the dominant equine athlete in the Ellis Park Derby field, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Godolphin operation might hold the strongest collective hand for the race. In addition to standing Bernardini, sire of Art Collector, Godolphin also has their own homebred entrant in Shared Sense, a son of Darley stallion Street Sense who brings his own share of momentum into the nine-furlong test.

The Ellis Park Derby offers 85 qualifying points (50-20-10-5) toward the Kentucky Derby on September 5.

The same week Art Collector announced himself as a leading sophomore contender with his victory in Keeneland’s Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes on July 11, Shared Sense made his own statement as one his classmates will have to tangle with if they want to land some of the division’s better races. In his first try against graded-stakes company, the bay colt captured the Grade 3 Indiana Derby by three lengths on July 8 over a field that included fellow Ellis Park Derby contender Necker Island.

When Art Collector did his thing a few days later at Keeneland, it actually made Shared Sense’s victory at Indiana Grand all the more impressive as the two colts had met in an allowance-optional claiming race at Churchill Downs on June 13 with Art Collector prevailing handily by 6 ½ lengths. It will take a massive step forward for Shared Sense to close that gap this Sunday but, as the upsets which peppered the racing landscape last weekend demonstrated, there is always reason for confidence when you’re armed with a contender whose form is going in the right direction.

“I think any time you open the gates, any one is liable to stub their toe or miss the break like we saw last weekend (with Tom’s d’Etat in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes) where you can stumble at the gate and cost yourself everything,” said Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin’s U.S. operations. “We’re going in with no illusions. Art Collector is the best horse on paper and in the flesh and I think it’s his race to lose really, and only if he’s not himself or certain things happen beyond their control that we’re in position to take advantage of.

“I think obviously Art Collector is the overwhelming, deserving favorite. But we’re going to get a pretty good measure of how Shared Sense will tackle the upper echelon of 3-year-olds. His win in the Indiana Derby was enough to give us confidence that he can step up and enter a race like the Ellis Park Derby with horses like Art Collector in it.”

Having a homebred son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in the conversation at this point in the year was expected from the Godolphin team, only many figured it would be Grade 1 winner Maxfield as the subject matter. A condylar fracture suffered in June sent that undefeated colt to the sidelines and, while that gut punch still stings, Shared Sense has quietly stepped up as a contender to carry Sheikh Mohammed’s blue silks to Louisville come September.

Trained by Brad Cox, Shared Sense broke his maiden via disqualification at Churchill Downs last November 30 and, after finishing sixth in the Smarty Jones Stakes during his seasonal bow on January 24, he captured a one-mile allowance-optional claiming test at Oaklawn Park on February 29.

A venture on turf would follow next time out with a run in the War Chant Stakes on May 23, but that experiment was shelved when Shared Sense finished sixth. His progress has been built in increments rather than dynamics, but there were always indicators that he could swim in deeper waters.

“His only real blemish could be attributed to us where we took a chance and ran him on the grass in the War Chant and he came from out of the clouds, was almost last and finished well enough,” Bell said. “So you take that race out of there and he’s had a win, a second and his second was to Art Collector. So he really has done no wrong in basically his last four races.

“When he got beat down at Oaklawn Park over a muddy track in the Smarty Jones, there were some nice horses that ran that day. He’s just been a horse who has done very little wrong. He’s been a little unlucky, this that and the other, but the Indiana Derby was a big boost. He got a proper Beyer and a proper (Ragozin) out of that number.”

Shared Sense was not an original Triple Crown nominee and would need to be supplemented for $45,000 (plus entry fees) into the Kentucky Derby field should he make a definitive case for himself this weekend.

“It’d be a little overly speculative to be making any comments on that but…. (Art Collector) is genuinely one of the top 3-year-olds and one of the reasons we chose the Ellis Park Derby is to get a line on (Shared Sense),” Bell said. “It didn’t make a lot of sense to be shipping a long ways out of here when you have an opportunity like this at Ellis Park. So I certainly think the results would speak for themselves.”

The presence of both Shared Sense and Art Collector in the Ellis Park Derby field also serves as a mini tribute the all-around prowess of Darley’s 17-year-old stalwart Bernardini, the 2006 Preakness Stakes winner and 3-year-old champion.

In addition to siring 4-5 favorite Art Collector, Bernardini is also the broodmare sire of 9-2 second choice Shared Sense, who is out of the unraced mare Collective. Bernardini’s rise up the ranks as a broodmare sire is particularly notable for a stallion his age as his daughters have also produced such standouts as Maxfield, 2019 Kentucky Oaks heroine Serengeti Empress, and Grade 1 winner Dunbar Road.

“I think Bernardini probably as quickly and as rapidly as any young stallion has stamped himself as being just a phenomenal broodmare sire,” Bell said. “He’s shown that ability to get that top-class colt and his daughters, whether or not they are great racemares, it seems the blood is there and the production speaks for itself. It’s been really amazing the success he’s had as a broodmare sire as young as he is. Usually you begin to see that late in their careers but … almost as soon as those fillies are retired they start showing up as producers.”

Hence, even if Art Collector gets the better of their runner again this weekend, it will still go down as a victory for one of the industry’s most successful global operations.

“I think Sheikh Mohammed takes enormous satisfaction in having a stallion making such a contribution to the breed,” Bell said. “If we by chance were to get nipped, we’d still love to keep the Bernardini connection going. If we can’t do it with the broodmare sire in Shared Sense, maybe Bernie can get it done with Art Collector.”

The post Godolphin’s Shared Sense ‘Really Has Done No Wrong’ Ahead Of Ellis Park Derby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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