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Gerrymander Shines In Mother Goose Stakes

James Murphy
by in Horses on
  • Chad Brown trained Gerrymander rebounded from a disappointing three year old debut in last month’s G2 Eight Belles to win the Grade 2 Mother Goose at Belmont Park.
  • Gerrymander won by three lengths over Shahama. 4 3/4 lengths behind Shahama in third was 1-2 race favorite Juju’s Map.
  • The Mother Goose is named after Harry Payne Whitney’s filly who defeated the colts in the 1924 Futurity.

There’s a great line in the first Oceans Eleven remake where Brad Pitt tells casino boss Andy Garcia during a robbery that ‘in this town your luck can change just that fast.’ He was talking about Las Vegas, not Elmont, New York though the same concept played out today–albeit in an equine paradigm. Chad Brown trained Gerrymander bounced back from a dismal three year old debut in last month’s G2 Eight Belles at Churchill Down to win the Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont in impressive fashion. The daughter of Into Mischief got a solid ride from jockey Joel Rosario and took the victory from off the pace by three lengths over Shahama.

And just like that, Gerrymander goes from a disappointing filly off to a late start on her three year old campaign to a legit player among the top three year old female horses. Right now, Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath and Belmont Stakes runner up Nest are definitely the top tier of the division but Gerrymander might be in line to join them. Brown is considering entering Gerrymander in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes on August 20 at Saratoga.

But what of that performance in the Eight Belles, where Gerrymander ran sixth out of a field of nine? Trainer Brown considers it a ‘non-issue’ at this point:

“It was a wet track, she was inside, she didn’t break well. It was a greasy track she hated and she didn’t do any running. I drew a line through it. She trained brilliantly leading up to the (Mother Goose). We know she loves Belmont and has always trained well here. We were quietly confident that she would show up today.”

She did more than just ‘show up’–she looked downright dominant, with an assist coming via a heady ride from Joel Rosario. Gerrymander quickly went to the front, but after a slow paced first quarter Rosario yielded the lead to 1-2 posttime favorite Juju’s Map with Florent Geroux aboard. It was a spot where a less skilled jockey might have tried to run away from the small field. Instead, Rosario understood his mount, the competition, the pace and style of the race and the best tactical route to challenge for the win. Explaining his decision to rein in Gerrymander he said simply:

“It looked like they were in a hurry a little bit early, so I just took my time.”

Rosario bided his time, staying off the pace as Shahama dueled with Juju’s Map at the front. At the top of the stretch, he struck. Gerrymander took the lead at the three-sixteenth pole and didn’t look back. Trainer Brown said after the race that he wasn’t too keen on his jockey’s decision to downshift–until it proved to be key to victory and one of the reasons Rosario is among the best in the business:

“When she broke on the front I liked it. When he decided to put a hold on her a little bit and let Juju’s Map overtake him I did question it down the backside. When I saw the fractions 24-to-46 I said well, Joel has a better clock than I do because that was probably the right move to do and it sure was the winning move.”

Rosario downplayed his strategic wizardry:

“It worked out good. It set up well.”

The challenge of the Alabama Stakes is likely upcoming for Gerrymander and Brown thinks she’ll be able to handle the 1 1/4 mile distance:

“Being a half (sister) to Lone Rock, who is a cool, consistent (gelding) that runs all day on dirt, you figure there are some similarities (between them) and a mile and a quarter is not out of the question. We’d like to get to the Alabama with her.”

Lone Rock is a seven year old gelding with a G2 win in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at Del Mar going 1 5/8 miles last November. The month before, he finished second in another 1 5/8 mile event at Belmont with a win at 1 3/4 mile at Saratoga last August.

Gerrymander was 5-1 on the morning line and went off at 6-1. She paid $15.00 to win and $5.20 to place. Shahama finished second paying $3.50 to place with the four horse field only paying the top two positions. Juju’s Map would settle for third and Venti Valentine rounded out the field. Midnight Stroll was entered but scratched. The $1.00 4-1 Exacta paid $18.00.

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