Shackleford's brilliant 3-year-old colt Malagacy made his first foray into stakes company in the $900,000 Rebel S. (G2) Saturday at Oaklawn Park and came away with a convincing two-length victory (VIDEO
Malagacy had devastated his competition in two prior starts at Gulfstream Park, winning by a combined 22 lengths.
The Rebel, however, offered a different challenge, as Malagacy was also making his first start around two turns. The chestnut colt broke well and stalked in second behind the speedy Uncontested. The leader was going along comfortably through six furlongs in 1:11.35, but offered little resistance when Malagacy moved alongside at the top of the stretch.
Javier Castellano urged Malagacy to the front, then got a brief challenge on the outside from Untrapped before pulling away in the final furlong to stop the timer in 1:43 flat on the fast track.
"He was so impressive in his first two starts that (sending him to the Rebel) wasn't a question of talent," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "It was just a question of handling different things and one of those was shipping from his Florida base to Hot Springs, and he handled that well. Of course, the other questions were stretching out around two turns and stepping up into graded stakes company.
"We were very confident in the way the horse was training. He had been training very well. He had shown us in his breezes that the added distance wouldn't be an issue, but we just don't know until they do it. There's some stamina in his pedigree, but he's also a very quick and a very fast horse."
Malagacy is owned by Sumaya U. S. Stable and has now earned $586,800 in his three wins. He sold as a 2-year-old for $190,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Mid-lantic Spring Sale.
With Saturday's results, Shackleford will be ranked first on the 2017 Second-Crop Sire list with over $1 million in progeny earnings.
Malagacy also picked up 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, almost certainly assuring himself a spot in the starting gate in the 2017 Run for the Roses.