SHAKERTOWN STAKES | PURSE: $100,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 3 | 5 1/2 FURLONGS (TURF)
Martin Racing Stable's Marchman broke fastest from the starting gate and made all the pace in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Shakertown at Keeneland. Dismissed at 23-1, the Bret Calhoun-trained colt withstood the late surge of 33-1 outsider Positive Side by a neck to earn his first graded stakes win. Robby Albarado was up on the front-runner, who paid $49.60 to win.
"He broke exceptionally well," Albarado said. "I set him on his feet a little bit and by the time I got to the turn I had to make a conscious decision either go on or take him back. I went on with him and it worked out great. He got through there. Threw his ears up, got comfortable and content."
Marchman established opening splits in :22 ⅕ seconds and :45 seconds while being closely chased by Go Blue or Go Home in second. He shook free of that rival in midstretch, passing the five-furlong mark in :56 ⅖ seconds up by nearly two lengths, but faced a challenge inside the final sixteenth from Positive Side, who closed boldly from off the pace along the inside.
The wire came in time for Marchman, who completed 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02 ⅕ over the firm turf.
"Robby made a great decision right away from there," Calhoun said. "The horse was going very easy the first quarter mile and I think that won the race. Robby made some split-second decisions and obviously made the right decision this time."
"Turning for home, I squeezed on him and went home," Albarado added. "I rode him last time in New Orleans and he kind of stuck to the fence there. I made the lead for a little point and I kind of let his head go a little bit."
Positive Side wound up three-quarters of a length ahead of Something Extra in third. Hogy, Go Blue or Go Home, Gantry, and 3-1 favorite Havelock were next under the wire. Shrinking Violet and No Silent dead-heated for eighth. Channel Marker, Animal Style and Ancil rounded out the order of finish, and Tour Guide was scratched.
Marchman broke his maiden in third career start, defeating special weight rivals over the turf at Churchill Downs last year in June, and captured an optional claiming event over Del Mar's Polytrack two starts later. He followed with a sixth in his stakes debut, the six-furlong Phoenix over Keeneland's Polytrack last October, and recorded a second in the six-furlong Bet on Sunshine on Churchill Downs' main track a month later.
The son of Sharp Humor returned to the turf at Fair Ground in late November, registering his first stakes victory in the one-mile Woodchopper, and earned a brief freshening after a 10th in the grassy Buddy Diliberto Memorial at 1 1/16 miles in mid-December. Marchman returned to action in February, posting a third in an off-the-turf optional claiming event before finishing a respectable third in his previous outing, the March 15 Colonel Power at about 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
"We thought the firm turf here would help him a lot," Calhoun said. "He's a big, heavy horse and we thought the firmer going would be good for him and he obviously likes the grass."
Bred in Kentucky by Lynn and Kathy Jones, Marchman RNA'ed as a yearling at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Maryland October sale before selling for $90,000 to his owners at the OBS April two-year-old sale in 2012. He is the only registered foal out of the unraced Indian Charlie mare Sookie Sookie and his third maternal dam, the With Approval mare One Over Prime, produced multiple Grade 3 hero Twilight Meteor.
A pair of Canadian champion two-year-old fillies, Poetically and Primaly; Grade 1 winner Citronnade; and Grade 3 victor Whiskey Wisdom all hail from Marchman's fourth maternal dam.