Shimmering Aspen heads Timonium Distaff field
Shimmering Aspen. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
by Frank Vespe
Shimmering Aspen isn’t the type of racehorse that usually graces the racetrack in Timonium.
A $200,000 auction purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling sale in 2015, the daughter of Malibu Moon has won five of 10 starts in her career and twice been sent out as the favorite in a graded stakes race.
But, riding a three-race losing streak and making just her second start of 2018, Timonium is where she’ll be on Saturday, as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the inaugural running of the $75,000 Timonium Distaff Stakes. The 6 1/2-furlong test will go as race five on the 10-race card with a 3:05 post time, and if all goes according to plan, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will also be in attendance.
Shimmering Aspen, trained by Rodney Jenkins for Ellen Charles’ Hillwood Stable LLC, has made just one start on a bullring track. Last September, sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks, she made little impact en route to a sixth-place finish.
In her first start of ’18, late last month, she ran third as the favorite in an allowance test, ending up three lengths behind another talented, multiple-stakes winner in Crabcakes. Regular pilot Victor Carrasco is in to ride.
The Timonium Distaff is no gimme, however. Her rivals include the speedy Angel At War (3-1) and the late-running My Magician (4-1). The former, trained by Michael Gorham, has run second to the hard-hitting Lake Ponchatrain in three of her last four starts, among them the Dance to Bristol Stakes at Charles Town in April. Augusto Marin will ride.
The latter, from the powerful Claudio Gonzalez operation, has won three stakes in the last 13 months and also owns a win over the strip; on closing day last year she narrowly held off Grade 1-placed Line of Best Fit to win an open allowance contest. Jomar Torres will ride.
Owner Robert Cole, Jr. and trainer Kevin Patterson teamed up to win last year’s Coalition Stakes — the first stake at Timonium in several years — with first-off-the-claim runner Blu Moon Ace. The same duo will try to reprise that triumph with Polite Pearl (12-1), whom they claimed last out for $25,000. She won that day for her third consecutive triumph and owns 13 career victories, by far the most of any runner here.
Rounding out the field are Keep Your Distance (8-1), Wowwhatabrat (20-1), Munificent (12-1), Shackleford’s Lady (8-1), and Squan’s Kingdom (15-1).
GQ’S PICKS AND ANALYSIS
- #4 – My Magician (4-1): Her foes have a ton of early speed, she does not, which bodes well for a late rally passing leg-weary gals
- #2 – Angel At War (3-1): Appears to be speed of the speed, if any of these gals can outrun the others in gate-2-wire fashion, she’s it
- #1 – Shimmering Aspen (2-1): Hard to image this filly is 15-months removed from G2 Black-Eyed Susan PT favorite; rail tough spot