By Keith McCalmont
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano added to his incredible 2023 campaign by guiding Shea D Boy’s Stable’s My Shea D Lady to a 2 1/2-length victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series, a seven-furlong sprint for eligible New York-sired juvenile fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Castellano has enjoyed a career resurgence by winning his first Grade 1 Kentucky Derby aboard Mage before teaming up with Arcangelo to secure his first victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets and a record-extending seventh score in the Grade 1 Travers. His more than $18 million in purse earnings this year marks his best season since 2019 when his mounts banked more than $25.1 million.
“I’ve been blessed. It’s been a great year for me and [agent] P.J. Campo, he puts a lot of effort in to hustle the horses for me to ride the races in the afternoon,” Castellano said. “All the trainers and owners have given me support. It’s been a blessed year. I don’t have the words to describe my year, it’s been one of the best years of my career. At my age, 46, to be blessed with all those Triple Crown races and all the Grade 1-races and especially the New York-bred races here in New York.”
The Carlos David-trained My Shea D Lady, one of five Solomini progeny entered here, was hustled out of the gate from post 2 to stalk in third position as Soloshot set splits of 22.99 seconds and 46.91 over the fast main track under pressure from longshot Sun and Wind. Soloshot maintained a precarious lead late in the turn with Elite Status launching a four-wide wide bid and My Shea D Lady saving ground and patiently waiting for room.
Daylight appeared for My Shea D Lady as the field straightened away and she surged up the rail to take command inside the eighth pole as the Ruben Silvera-piloted Sun and Wind pressed on to the inside of Elite Status and Walk With Me launched a wide, late bid under Dylan Davis. But there was no denying My Shea D Lady, who stayed on strong to the wire to stop the clock in a final time of 1:25.91.
Walk With Me arrived in time to complete the exacta by three-quarter lengths over Elite Status with Sun and Wind, Miss Lao, Artemis Girl, My Perfect Mistake, Soloshot, Book of Wisdom, E Stormy, Holder Close and Tour Jete completing the order of finish. A claim of foul by Rudy Rodriguez, trainer of Sun and Wind, against the winner for alleged interference at the furlong marker was disallowed by the stewards.
Castellano, aboard My Shea D Lady for the first time in the afternoon, said his filly was much the best.
“My filly was just a little bit intimidated along the rail behind horses. It was really tight and she don’t want to go, but as soon as she got through, she took off,” Castellano said. “She started getting tired a little bit at the end. I had to keep her straight but I didn’t interfere with nobody else. You could see I was clear and I didn’t bother nobody in the race.”
My Shea D Lady, bred in the Empire State by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, graduated at first asking in July at Gulfstream Park and made her next three starts in state-bred stakes company topped by a third-place finish in the Seeking the Ante in August at Saratoga Race Course.
David, who was winning a stakes in New York for the first time, said My Shea D Lady benefited from Castellano’s experience.
“They’re still babies. They’re still trying to figure it out. I know it’s another month and they’ll be three, but she’s only run five times and there’s been a couple races where she just kind of hangs,” David said. “The jockeys weren’t as aggressive as I wanted them to be, and I told Javier, ‘I think it’s a great spot and if she doesn’t get in trouble, we should be able to come through; don’t feel scared to just kind of push a little bit and encourage her to get in the spot.’”
Trainer David Duggan said he was thrilled with the effort of jockey Dylan Davis aboard Walk With Me, who entered from a first-out maiden win against fellow state-breds on November 9 here.
“You can’t be disappointed with that. She just needed to get into a rhythm,” Duggan said. “She took a little bit of dirt and she probably lacked a little bit of seasoning, but he gave her a chance and she got her feet underneath her and made a huge run. The winner had obviously gone from us but I think going forward we could have a better filly once we get another added furlong. She showed us she belongs and that she’s legitimate in the New York program.”
My Shea D Lady was a $100,000 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase. She is out of the Teuflesberg mare Ladyberg, who is a half-sister to multiple stakes-winner Hoosick Falls and stakes-placed Manor Prospect.
David said the talented dark bay will now enjoy a short winter break.
“She’s been running good. I’m going to talk to the guys and maybe send her to the warm weather for a couple of months. I’ll leave it up to them,” David said. “She’s great and has done good for us. I always like to give them a little break, maybe run her one time in Florida. She’s a New York-bred, but after a race like this, maybe we just give her a couple months off and let her refresh.”
My Shea D Lady banked $275,000 in victory, while improving her record to 5-2-0-1. She returned $7.50 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing resumes Sunday at Aqueduct with a nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
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