April 22, 2024

Shahama, Juju’s Map renew rivalry in Monmouth Oaks

Shahama pictured training for the Kentucky Oaks (Photo by Coady Photography)

A retreating third as the 1-2 favorite in the Mother Goose (G2), Juju’s Map aims to rebound in Sunday’s $250,000 Monmouth Oaks (G3). The Brad Cox filly renews rivalry with Shahama, the Mother Goose runner-up, in the 1 1/16-mile affair.

Shahama, a Munnings half-sister to champion Lookin at Lucky, started her career in Dubai with a perfect 4-for-4 record. Turning a classic double in the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks (G3), the flashy bay earned a ticket stateside for the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Shahama made an encouraging debut for Todd Pletcher in that tough spot, rallying belatedly for sixth. She improved next time in the Mother Goose. Despite a bobble at the break, Shahama recovered to race in a handy stalking spot, put her head in front briefly between calls, and finished a clear second to Gerrymander. The third U.S. start, plus the addition of Lasix, could be the charm. Jorge Vargas Jr. gets the riding assignment.

Juju’s Map had never finished worse than second going into the Mother Goose. The daughter of Liam’s Map romped in her first two route attempts, including last fall’s Alcibiades (G1), and finished best of the rest to then-unbeaten champ Echo Zulu in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). After a dominant allowance score on Kentucky Oaks Day, Juju’s Map appeared ready to roll back in stakes company. But she folded uncharacteristically last out at Belmont Park, where a much faster second quarter might have softened her up. She’s eligible to show more back around two turns at Monmouth Park, and with a more straightforward race shape. Paco Lopez picks up the mount.

Outstanding young sire Gun Runner furnishes their two most accomplished opponents. Shotgun Hottie just missed by a head as the Delaware Oaks (G3) favorite in her latest, and now gets a switch to Dylan Davis. The William Morey filly has been a consistent stakes player all season, from her photo-finish win in the Ruthless S. to placings in the Busher S. and Gazelle (G3).

The other Gun Runner filly, Runaway Wife, is on the upswing for Ken McPeek. In her stakes debut in the July 9 Indiana Oaks (G3), she beat all bar the odds-on favorite Interstatedaydream. Well behind Runaway Wife in third, a further 6 1/2 lengths back, was her McPeek stablemate Silverleaf.

Concluding the six-horse field is Office Etiquette, out of her depth as an 0-for-8 maiden.