Shagaf improved his record to three-for-three, and joined fellow Shadwell Stable color bearer Mohaymen as a leading Kentucky Derby (G1) contender, with a solid victory in Saturday's $400,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct.
The 6-5 favorite in a field of seven for the 1 1/16-mile Gotham, Shagaf settled a couple of lengths off a pace set by the maiden Laoban, who set fractions of :23.33, :47.16 and 1:11.69. Aided by a track that had been favoring inside speed all day, Laoban was able to turn back a stretch challenge from second choice Sunny Ridge, but could not fend off a late surge from Shagaf, who drew off late to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Shagaf completed the distance over a fast track in 1:45.80 and paid $4.50.
Laoban, who had run third in the Sham (G3) at Santa Anita in his previous outing, held second by three parts of a length over Adventist. Sunny Ridge, three wide around both turns before making his futile stretch bid, weakened to fourth.
Shagaf earned 50 qualifying points toward Kentucky Derby eligibility as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby Series and is currently in third place. Laoban earned 20 points (8th place) and Adventist (17th place) received 10 points. Sunny Ridge, who is not expected to be pointed to the Derby, received five points and advanced to 6th place in the standings.
Bred in Kentucky by his owner, Shagaf won on debut by six lengths over Aqueduct's main track in November, and followed up with a two-length allowance score at Gulfstream in late January. The son of Bernardini has now bankrolled $298,800.
Chad Brown said Shagaf would remain in New York and be pointed toward the $1 million Wood Memorial (G1) over Aqueduct's main track going 1 1/8 miles on April 9. Mohaymen, the current points leader and Derby favorite, will be Shadwell's representative in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on April 2.
(NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)