As Shakespeare once wrote, “O! for a horse with wings!”
He wasn’t talking about his 21st century namesake, but could well have been, as SHAKESPEARE was an animal who, when he put hoof to turf, moved with such effortless power that he seemed to glide over the ground. It was SHAKESPEARE’s faultless locomotion that made him such an effective race horse, and now that he’s passing those traits onto his offspring, is making him such an effective sire. It goes without saying, then, that Lane’s End is thrilled to add SHAKESPEARE to its stallion roster for the 2012 season.
From limited opportunities, SHAKESPEARE has made a big impression with members from his first crop, which hit the track in 2011. They’ve been led by the outstanding juvenile colt Shkspeare Shaliyah, winner of the G3 Pilgrim S. in his third career start. The colt rallied from last under Alex Solis to win the $100,000 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park. “I told everyone he is not going to lose,” said trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal. “I know this horse. He is the best horse I have ever trained.”
Not one but three of SHAKESPEARE’s runners have graduated in maiden special weight company facing big fields at Woodbine, two of them in their respective debut races. The Peachtree Stable-owned, Dell Ridge Farm-bred Laertes was the 8-5 favorite when he aired by 3 1/2 lengths in a seven-furlong maiden at the track in August, beating home 11 other rivals. The $140,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida graduate, trained by Roger Attfield, was making his first start.
The Meadow Oak Farm homebred Shakespeare’s Brew, also making his debut, won by a similar margin in a six-furlong dash later in the month while stopping the clock in a swift 1:10 1/5. He is trained by Kevin Attard.
Prince Raphael, meanwhile, was making his second career start when he broke his maiden impressively, having run third to Shakespeare’s Brew in his bow. A 7-2 chance going seven furlongs over Woodbine’s Polytrack, Prince Raphael rocketed home clear by 6 3/4 lengths for owner/breeders Cristina and Olsen Belle and trainer Debora England. All three races carried purses of $67,100.
Across the pond in Europe, SHAKESPEARE’s daughter Quantum of Solange has proven an exciting prospect. She broke her maiden early in the season in Italy, then added a pair of condition events in Naples and Rome, and seems likely to evolve into a black-type horse as a 3-year-old.
Of SHAKESPEARE’s six juvenile winners (through the end of November), five came in maiden special weight company.
The qualities of SHAKESPEARE’s runners are a mere reflection of his own considerable abilities. Bred by Dell Ridge Farm and raced by Dell Ridge and William Schettine, SHAKESPEARE showed from the beginning he was different, winning his first four starts–all by daylight–by a combined 10 3/4 lengths. In his career debut, he aired by three lengths in a Gulfstream maiden special, then easily defeated subsequent Grade 1 winner Prince Arch by a wide margin in the Caltech S. in Hallandale.
SHAKESPEARE was a perfect three-for-three when he entered the 2005 G2 Belmont Breeders’ Cup H., and was so well-regarded that he was sent off the odds-on choice over G1 Manhattan H. winner Meteor Storm (GB). He lived up to those odds with an explosive effort, getting to the mile in 1:33.60 and sailing home to win the nine-furlong race in 1:45.06. The final time set a new course record at Belmont.
SHAKESPEARE was again odds-on in his next, Belmont’s 1 1/2-mile G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational S., despite facing an ultra-tough field that included ENGLISH CHANNEL and subsequent G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up Ace (Ire).
Said the Daily Racing Form’s Mike Farrell, “Showing tremendous determination, SHAKESPEARE stretched his unbeaten streak to five with a gutsy head victory over ENGLISH CHANNEL in the $750,000 G1Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park. SHAKESPEARE ($3.80) ran the 1 1/2 miles over a firm course in 2:27.22. The 4-year-old… passed several important tests in the Hirsch by proving he was a Grade 1-caliber horse who could handle this distance. Running three furlongs farther than he had ever gone, SHAKESPEARE dug deep for the victory, which will propel him into the Breeders’ Cup Turf here [at Belmont].
“A lot of horses won’t win a dogfight,” said trainer Bill Mott. “He showed today that he had it in him to do that. That’s most important.” A son of Theatrical (Ire), Shakespeare had won his previous four races largely on talent as he powered to commanding wins. In the Hirsch, the competition–especially the 3-year-old ENGLISH CHANNEL–put up a stiff fight. “He had the worst trip of anybody,” jockey Jerry Bailey said of SHAKESPEARE. “I was parked on both turns, and I had to put him into a four-and-a-half to five-furlong drive. I’m very thrilled. He’s the kind I get up early in the morning for.”
That October, SHAKESPEARE suffered his first career defeat in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf over rain-softened ground, his first and only career loss, but the strapping bay would be back to show what he could do. SHAKESPEARE returned to win a salty Saratoga optional claimer, then shipped to Canada to face a deep field in the G1 Woodbine Mile. Lining up against him that day was Kip Deville, who in his very next start would dominate the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile. But SHAKESPEARE, again the crowd’s choice, let his class show.
Horse Canada described the race, “Favored SHAKESPEARE, ridden by Garrett Gomez, saved all the drama for the final sixteenth of a mile, as he powered his way along the rail to win the $1 million G1 Woodbine Mile on Sunday. The regally bred SHAKESPEARE was well back on the inside, as Gomez looked for a seam on the fence. The opening came when last year’s Mile winner Becrux (Ity) drifted, and SHAKESPEARE …flashing a tremendous turn of foot…set sail for the leaders. When the curtain came down at the finish of the turf classic, SHAKESPEARE, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, proved a handy one-length winner over Kip Deville…with a final time for the Mile of 1:33.58.”
Noting that SHAKESPEARE sped the final quarter in about :22 seconds and his resulting 107 Beyer Speed Figure, Daily Racing Form called the win “jaw dropping.”
“It was awesome,” agreed trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who had assumed training duties for Mott. “He’s a very, very talented horse. He’s a Grade 1 winner at a mile and a half, and now at a mile. And I don’t know that it would matter to him if it was seven furlongs or a mile and seven furlongs–he’s just that talented.”
McLaughlin later added, “SHAKESPEARE was in that elite small group of superstars that deserve to be called great. I think if you’d put the starting gate up at six furlongs or a mile and a half, I’ve never felt so confident that we’d get to the wire first.”
SHAKESPEARE was retired with a record of seven wins in eight starts, and earnings of nearly $1.3 million.
In addition to being a stunningly handsome individual who moved like spun silk on the track, SHAKESPEARE always had an enviable pedigree going for him. In fact, his dam, the Grade 1-winning millionairess Lady Shirl, has built up something of a North American turf dynasty. She is the dam of five black-type horses, including four stakes winners.
They include SHAKESPEARE’s half-sister Perfect Shirl, who lived up to her name in the 2011 G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, when she defeated, among others, the previously unbeaten European Group 1 winner Nahrain (GB). Perfect Shirl has earned over $1.3 million.
Lady Shirl is also the dam of SHAKESPEARE’s full-sister Lady Shakespeare, whose victories included the G2 New York Breeders’ Cup S. and G3 Bewitch S.; and of SW & MGSP Fantastic Shirl, now the dam of LEMON DROP KID’s young graded performer Fantastic Song.
SHAKESPEARE is one of the most talented racehorses by the brilliant Theatrical (Ire), himself a son of the great Nureyev. A champion and six-time Grade 1 winner on the track, Theatrical went on to sire no fewer than 81 black-type winners, including four champions and a staggering 21 Grade/Group 1 winners. Theatrical, who is now emerging as a top broodmare sire, too, got a very strong 8% stakes winners from foals.
With so much going for him–race record, great looks, a superb pedigree and, now, an outstanding start in the breeding shed–SHAKESPEARE offers breeders outstanding value at a fee of $10,000.
Or, as Shakespeare put in succinctly: “Look, what a horse should have he did not lack.”