When reading the pedigree of Altaf, Shadwell Farm's Grade 1, $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks aspirant, one would be led to believe that she would likely find a home on grass. But such has not been the case thus far.
Following a seventh-place effort on debut over the lawn at Gulfstream Park, the bay daughter of Medaglia d'Oro raced at Churchill Downs over the main track, which appeared to make a huge difference as she powered home a 5 1/4-length victor under jockey Joel Rosario.
Trained by Chad Brown, Altaf is out of the Smart Strike broodmare Fawaarek, who was a winner on grass. Her grand dam was three-time turf G1 winner and 2002 Champion Turf Mare Golden Apples, who produced graded stakes winner on turf Habaya, as well as turf graded stakes-placed Hatheer.
"Golden Apples was a very good turf mare. I guess the Medaglia d'Oro is coming out in her a bit," said Shadwell Farms' general manager Rick Nichols. "She had worked well on the grass. Chad thought that's where she should start out at. But she didn't seem to like it all that much. The jockey [Joel Rosario] liked her the day he rode her, but he too didn't think she cared for it that much. We brought her back on the dirt, and it was impressive."
How impressive? Enough to really catch Nichols' attention.
"Once you've seen as many horses as I have over the years, it's hard for me to be too impressed, and I was impressed," Nichols said.
Saratoga's Coaching Club American Oaks, offering 100-40-20-10 points to the Kentucky Oaks, will be quite a step up in class from Altaf's maiden victory. But Nichols said his filly is up for the task. Brown won last year's CCA Oaks with Guarana, who in her prior start won the G1 Acorn off of an impressive maiden victory.
"It's a big step, but I like the fact that we have a nice small field and Chad is very, very pleased with her," said Nichols. "He loves her. He's always thought a lot of her. After that race, we all like her a little bit more."
A big run on Saturday could result in Altaf targeting the lilies on the First Friday in September for the Kentucky Oaks.
"If she wins on Saturday and comes out of it well, we'll speak to Sheikh Hamdan and I'm sure he would love to give her a try in the Oaks," Nichols said.
Altaf will be ridden by Joel Rosario from post 3.
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
|S. Joseph, Jr.|
I. Ortiz, Jr.