G2 Winner Shotski On Target for UAE Derby March 28

G2 Winner Shotski On Target for UAE Derby March 28

Laurel Park-Based Colt Arrived in Dubai Wednesday

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Howling Pigeon Farms’ Grade 2 winner Shotski, fourth last out in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) Feb. 29 at Gulfstream Park, arrived in Dubai Wednesday ahead of his next scheduled start in the $2.5 million UAE Derby (G2) March 28.

Laurel Park-based trainer Jerry O’Dwyer said Shotski landed around 8:30 a.m. EST Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. Dubai time, following a flight from South Florida, where the 2019 Remsen (G2) winner has remained following his most recent start.

“The horse shipped yesterday and arrived this morning in Dubai in good shape,” O’Dwyer said from Ocala, where he was attending OBS’ March sale of 2-year-olds in training. “I breezed him myself the other day and he went good, galloped out good and cooled out good, so that was one step. He got there safe, so that’s another one. Now I’ve just got to get out there myself.”

Shotski went four furlongs over Gulfstream’s main track in 50.20 seconds March 16, his first timed breeze following the Fountain of Youth, where he was part of a four-way photo finish, beaten a head and neck for second behind runaway winner Ete Indien.

“He’ll just gallop over the track [in Dubai], light training and gallop and get his feet under him. Nothing too strenuous,” O’Dwyer said. “I breezed him [at Gulfstream] and he had a good gallop out, even though the time wasn’t reflected. It wasn’t that fast. I only wanted 50 [seconds] for him and that’s what he went, but he galloped real good and strong. He pulled up and he was plenty fit enough and not blowing. We’re looking forward to it.”

O’Dwyer, who is scheduled to leave for Dubai Thursday afternoon, considered keeping Shotski home rather than travel, but opted to stick with the original plan to point for the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse.

“We gave it some thought, sure. I’m a very positive person and I always look on the bright side of things. My feeling was if we can get out there, we’ll go, if we don’t then we’ll regroup and make a new plan,” O’Dwyer said. “I wanted to continue to go forward. They’re adamant that they’re going to race out there. It’s going to be like we’re doing mostly around the country, racing with no spectators.

“I’m sure they’re taking every precaution to keeping everyone safe out there, so I feel safe in doing that,” he said. “It’s not like we’re going to a dirty, second-rate race track anywhere. It’s top, world-class, and they’ll be doing everything they can to make it as safe as possible for themselves and for us.”

Like other horsemen with a promising 3-year-old, O’Dwyer may have to adjust his plans going forward following the postponement of the Kentucky Derby (G1) from May 2 to Sept. 5. He believes the extra time could work to Shotski’s benefit.

“All good horsemen, they’re going to have no trouble adjusting. They’ll tailor their training plans and running plans accordingly,” O’Dwyer said. “I think by the Derby being later in the year, some of those 3-year-olds that might not be as strong right now at this time of year might have a little bit of a chance to mature and get stronger for running a couple of months later.

“I think it will help some and it’ll hinder some. Some that are ready to rock and roll and are bigger and stronger now, it’ll hinder them because other 3-year-olds will have a chance to catch up by developing and getting stronger,” he added. “I think [Shotski] is right there in the middle. He’s mature enough and he’s been running good enough, but I do believe he’s still only a 3-year-old and hopefully he continues to get stronger throughout the year.”