Graham Motion melted into the corner of the corner clubhouse box, two rows from the top, for Friday’s feature. His wife Anita rooted, his daughter Jane yelled. Motion sat, well, motionless, biting his thumb for the last quarter-mile of the Grade II Lake Placid.
Shared Account resolutely galloped to the line of the 9-furlong stakes. Sagamore Farm’s 3-year-old filly held off Keertana by a length with Katara closing for third.
Motion stood up and sighed, “whew.” He flashed a thumb’s up, kissed Anita and then congratulated Sagamore’s Tim Mullikin in the next row. The farm manager wasn’t nearly as subdued.
“We were riding her hard down the stretch,” Mullikin said.
Harder than Edgar Prado who engineered a textbook trip for Shared Account. The Hall of Famer, winning his second consecutive graded stakes at Saratoga, allowed longshot Kiddari to clear him going under the wire the first time and then adopted a perfect spot in second. Kiddari pulled Shaun Bridgmohan through a 24.65-second quarter-mile and a 50.47 half-mile over the soft turf. Shared Account followed her like a security camera.
Shared Account galloped every furlong like she was going to the pole in the morning, simply waiting to uncoil. Midway on the final turn, Prado reached up and took a new grip of Shared Account, holding her in position as Consequence, Miss Keller and Keertana mustered rallies from just behind her.
Shared Account dispatched Kiddari and then stuck it out through the stretch as Keertana tried to run her down. Shared Account never looked vulnerable but she never salted it away either. It was assembly-line effective, by-the-book efficient. Motion watched confidently, but not assured.
“I really like this filly, you saw how she is, such quality, that gives you nothing but confidence but I’ve just been beaten so many times when I thought I was home free, it happens here more than anywhere else,” Motion said. “I don’t know what it is, you’ll get to the eighth pole and be like, ‘this filly’s going to gallop,’ and you get nailed. I see it happen here to other people too, I don’t know why, if it’s the calibre of horses or what.”
Not to worry – Shared Account had it all under control. Coming off a tough loss in the Grade III Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs, Shared Account went off the slight favorite over Miss Keller, who was making her first start in the U.S., after winning two races in Ireland.
Shared Account began her career with two wins at Laurel Park, the first over eventual stakes filly Magical Affair in October. Motion ventured to Florida thinking big. Really big.
“I thought she was an Oaks filly, Tom and I actually mentioned that word, probably shouldn’t have. I thought she was that special,” Motion said. “I thought this was the kind of filly she was when we went to Florida, and for whatever reason the Florida thing was just a disaster, she just didn’t do well.”
Justwhistledixie (and others) trounced Shared Account in back-to-back Grade II tries. Motion tried to justify the first, a sixth in the Davona Dale and then reality hit hard in the Bonnie Miss when she finished last, beaten 24 1/2 lengths.
“Physically, she just fell apart. Mentally, she was fine. She looked terrible, I don’t know what happened. Lost weight, lost condition, just didn’t do well. It was a progressive thing, I got her down there and it wasn’t like a situation where I thought I couldn’t run her, but I could tell she wasn’t doing as well down there as she was up north,” Motion said. “I said to Tom when we got back from Florida, ‘I’m just going to forget about her for a month.’ Just get her looking better because she looked terrible. They really let you do whatever you want, what a difference that makes.”
Motion didn’t order a saddle for Shared Account for a month, relying on the free walker and a big paddock to repair the Florida damage. After a couple of weeks of using Better Talk Now’s paddock and walking, she started coming around. Her shine returned and she started looking like she did originally. Two months to the day of her second defeat in Florida, Shared Account won an allowance race at Delaware Park. Switched to the turf, she finished third in the Perfect Sting and second in the Virginia Oaks. Prado utilized some lessons learned at Colonial Downs.
“It helped that I got to know her last time at Colonial. Today she was a bit more tactical and showed a little more speed,” Prado said. “She broke running so I didn’t want to restrain her and take her out of her game. We were always traveling comfortably so I just sat and waited and waited until it was time. She’s just a big, long-striding filly that keeps coming at you. I don’t think she’s going to give you that big kick and run away, but instead she’s just going to grind it out of you all the way around and that’s what she did today.”
For Kevin Plank of Sagamore (and Under Armour), she provided his biggest day in racing.
“It’s my first one. I’ve been in this thing for three years now and I’ve been waiting for that feeling, to know what it feels like,” said Plank, who bought the legendary Sagamore property in Maryland horse country. “You give, you give, you give, you give, kind of like family, you give, you give and you’re waiting saying, ‘it pays off at some point, right? Thanksgiving? Christmas dinner? There’s got to be a point.’ So this is a little bit Thanksgiving and a little bit Christmas wrapped up into one.”