Eight days after 2022 Kentucky Oaks (G1) alumni Nest, Secret Oath, and Nostalgic ran 1-2-3 in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), Shahama gave the Oaks form another boost with a confident triumph in Sunday’s $250,000 Monmouth Oaks (G3).
Monmouth Park’s signature race for three-year-old fillies featured five starters following the scratch of Silverleaf. Bettors were keen to support 2021 Alcibiades S. (G1) winner Juju’s Map, pounding the field’s most accomplished entrant down to 9-10 favoritism.
The 17-10 second choice was Kentucky Oaks sixth-place finisher Shahama, even though Shahama finished well clear of Juju’s Map when they ran second and third in the Mother Goose S. (G2) at Belmont Park last month.
The form of the Mother Goose held true in the Monmouth Oaks. Juju’s Map was a willing pacesetter in the 1 1/16-mile heat, dashing to the front through splits of :24.67, :48.71, and 1:11.88. But Shahama was never more than half a length behind, and turning for home she swept to the lead under jockey Jorge A. Vargas Jr. and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:41.54.
Shotgun Hottie rallied late to snatch second place by three-quarters of a length over a weakening Juju’s Map, while Runaway Wife and Office Etiquette trailed the field.
Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, Shahama is a daughter of Munnings out of the Belong to Me mare Private Feeling, making her a half-sister to champion Lookin at Lucky. The Monmouth Oaks marked Shahama’s first victory since arriving in the United States and transferring to the care of Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, but the KHK Racing colorbearer had previously gone 4-for-4 in Dubai for trainer Fawzi Abdulla Nass, most notably posting a two-length score in the UAE Oaks (G3).
The UAE Oaks took place over the testing distance of 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) and served as a demonstration of Shahama’s stamina. A race like the 1 1/4-mile Alabama S. (G1) on Aug. 20 could be an enticing target for Shahama, especially if her Pletcher-trained stablemate Nest opts to face males in the Travers S. (G1) one week later.