28 May 2020, Kentucky, USA ~ Chad Brown-trained Shadwell homebred sophomore filly Altaf went into her one-mile maiden special weight on Saturday, 23 May 2020, at Churchill Downs, USA, and is one worthy of attention. A daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, switching to the dirt after a turf debut that did not go as planned, she came out of the Kentucky race the star of the show, winning over the same track the Kentucky Oaks (G1) will be contested on 4 September.
Displaying eye-catching acceleration, the granddaughter of champion Golden Apples passed 10 horses in just over a quarter-mile, hit the front with about an eighth of a mile to go and sauntered across the line comfortably victorious under Joel Rosario.
“She showed a lot of promise in the morning, both on dirt and turf, but unfortunately her debut on the turf didn’t work out for her,” Brown said. “We put her on the dirt, over which she had trained very well, and really pointed toward this race at Churchill. She didn’t disappoint, that’s for sure. She has an exciting future.
“(Rosario) indicated that she was very professional and won with plenty in the tank,” Brown continued. “She got a lot of experience catching dirt for the first time and navigated through a little trouble there, going widest of all. The last part of the race—being geared down like that—was super-impressive and it was a sharp time, so we are very pleased. She’s a lovely filly that has come from the great breeding operation of Sheikh Hamdan and we’re very fortunate to have her in our shed row.”
The outlook for the possible luminary was not always so sparkling. Last summer, the bay filly went awry while preparing for her debut at Saratoga.
“The team at Shadwell did excellent work with her, as she got quite sick on us as a 2-year-old,” Brown explained. “She was almost ready to run on the dirt at Saratoga after she had worked extremely well out of the gate. She didn’t exit the work well and had pneumonia and had to go to the clinic. The team did a remarkable job of rehabbing her and sending her back to me this winter in fine condition. She’s never missed a beat since.”
Rick Nichols, vice president and general manager of Shadwell Farm, explained: “She came home last August due to lameness in her left hock, but once she arrived, we also found out she had pneumonia. She was treated at Rood and Riddle Clinic by Dr. Ruggles for the lameness and Dr. Barr for the pneumonia and they soon put her right. She responded very quickly to both issues and resumed training in late October.
“Altaf is a nice individual,” Nichols continued. “As a yearling, she was a big, strong filly with good bone and a good walk. Kevin Kahkola, who breaks Sheikh Hamdan’s yearlings in South Carolina, said she was always a good-minded, straight-forward filly who never did anything wrong.”
Options are aplenty at this point, with racing gradually falling into full swing. There are graded stakes to be considered, as well as allowance races for which she obviously still qualifies. Brown, America’s champion trainer the past four years, is content to take the patient approach, but also appears well aware that he has something substantial in his care.
Nichols confirmed that Altaf exited her race in “great form,” which is good news for those hoping they will see this able charge back under the Twin Spires in just over three months’ time.