‘Ornery’ Shivaree Will Be Tested Over Travers’ Mile And A Quarter

Jacks or Better Farm has made far more than its fair share of noise on the Florida circuit over the past 20 years, but on Saturday the Ocala-based operation seeks its first graded stakes triumph at Saratoga when Shivaree competes in the Grade 1, $1 million Runhappy Travers.

Trained by Ralph Nicks, Shivaree is the most seasoned horse in the “Mid-Summer Derby” field with a dozen starts under his belt, including a runner-up finish behind Runhappy Travers favorite Tiz the Law in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in March. The son of Awesome of Course has maintained consistent form throughout his 12 starts with a 3-3-2 record, but arrives at the Runhappy Travers a distant 11th in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland.

Fred Brei, proprietor of Jacks or Better Farm, said the Blue Grass effort was puzzling and he is hoping for a return to form with Shivaree charting a course toward the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.

“We have no idea what happened in his last race. That was the first time he hadn’t shown up for us in a long time,” said Brei. “At this point, he’ll let us know whether he likes a mile and a quarter. That’s one of the reasons we’re here.”

Shivaree was foaled and raised at Jacks or Better Farm, and Brei said Shivaree was a bit of a handful as a 2-year-old.

“As a yearling he was rather normal for a colt. No more energetic and no less energetic than the others,” Brei said. “But as a 2-year-old he was ornery. He did whatever he pleased, whether you liked it or not. It wasn’t until our fifth start before he broke his maiden. Not because he didn’t have the ability, he just wouldn’t center his brain on running was all. That’s just the way he was for basically most of his 2-year-old year.”

Shivaree graduated by besting fellow Florida-breds by 9 ½ lengths at Gulfstream Park West. His full brother Garter and Tie, who ran ninth in last year’s Grade 2 Amsterdam at the Spa, didn’t break his maiden until his fourth start but subsequently became a three-time stakes winner. Both are out of two-time stakes winner Garter Belt.

“I would say they’re all hardheaded,” Brei said of the family which includes three other six-digit earners. “Garter Belt was the same way. The mare gives you those horses that have to get racing in their brain, and you get it there from running not from training. Shivaree just took a fairly long time. We race 2-year-olds and we have for 20 years. For us to have a 2-year-old take four times to show you they can win a race is uncommon.”

With 40 qualifying points from a runner-up effort in the Florida Derby, Shivaree is 14th on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. His upcoming effort in the Runhappy Travers, which offers 100-40-20-10 qualifying points to the top four finishers, will be telling for his connections.

A win in the Travers would be a first Grade 1 victory for the farm since Awesome Feather won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs.

“The Travers would be a fantastic race for us to win,” Brei said. “It would show us that we belong in the Derby. Also, it would be the first big race winner since Feather.”

Shivaree has had some time to get acclimated to the Saratoga main track, having breezed five furlongs in 1:03.20 on August 1.

“He’s been up there for a week and he seems to be taking to it well. Ralph sent me pictures Wednesday morning and Shivaree seems to be enjoying himself,” Brei said.

Shivaree is from the same family as many of Jacks or Better’s most notable runners including millionaire Jackson Bend, who was third in the 2010 Preakness, and multiple graded stakes winner Fort Loudon.

The post ‘Ornery’ Shivaree Will Be Tested Over Travers’ Mile And A Quarter appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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