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King Confident In Shartin

Published: March 15, 2018 2:58 pm ET

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New Zealand-bred mare Shartin will take her first shot against North American stakes competition – in the first leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers Raceway Friday night (March 16) – since arriving in the barn of Jim King Jr. last fall.

A winner of the Group 2 Queensland Oaks at Albion Park last July, the daughter of Tintin In American out of the Live Or Die mare Bagdarin came to the U.S. after Rick Poillucci, who owns Shartin in partnership with Jo Ann King, scouted the mare from the same connections he purchased Nike Franco from in 2016.

Although Nike Franco is a multiple Grand Circuit stakes-winning mare and earner of $740,660, Australian trainer Dean Braun made a bold comparison about the two.

“When we got her, the guy that trained her over there, he also trained Nike Franco and he said he felt this mare was every bit that she was if not more,” King recalled. “I said, ‘that’s a pretty tall order, but we’ll see about that.’”

Although Shartin arrived in the U.S. at the end of October unraced since winning an overnight at Tabcorp Park Melton August 18, King didn’t have to start fresh with her training. Braun had already begun bringing Shartin back before she shipped across the Pacific. However, because training styles are so different in Australia, King was unsure how far along Shartin would be when she arrived.

“When I got her, I couldn’t interpret what he was telling me he’d done with her. I asked him, ‘if you still had her, when would she be ready to qualify?’ He gave me a time that he thought she should be ready to qualify,” King explained. “It’s a little different when he’s telling me she’s been so far in five minutes, so far in four minutes. That doesn’t compute with me. It’s all different.”

King was impressed by how well Shartin handled her transcontinental journey when she arrived at his stable in Delaware. She was in perfect health and showed no signs of stress or excessive fatigue from the trip.

“She arrived very healthy, I would say she was more healthy than any other horse I’ve gotten from there,” he said. “Some horses it takes a big toll on, but some horses act like they just came from next door. For her, she took the trip really well.”

Once he began working with her, King quickly realized Shartin wasn’t to be toyed with. Although she has a pleasant demeanour in the barn, she becomes pugnacious on the racetrack. Braun even warned King Shartin was “a bit bossy.”

“She’s pretty aggressive, she’s pretty eager,” King said. “There’s nothing mean about her, she’s really nice to care for and she tries to do what you ask her to do, but on the track, she gets in a bit of a hurry.”

Shartin’s first stateside qualifier came at Dover Downs January 10. She won by three and a quarter lengths in 1:55.1 before posting three straight sub-1:53 victories at Dover Downs, which culminated in a 1:52.3 score in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap on February 7. Shartin tasted her first defeat while finishing second to Monica Gallagher in the Meadowlands’ first race on February 17, a card that was cut short due to a blizzard.

“At this time, there’s really been no end to her,” King said. “The only time she hasn’t won so far was at the Meadowlands on the snow night when they had to cancel there and at Yonkers. She didn’t know if she won or not, it was snowing so hard she couldn’t see. As far as she knew, she did win. We’re pretty pleased with the return we’ve gotten so far.”

Shartin rebounded from her narrow loss to earn a half-length victory in the distaff feature at Dover in her most recent outing on February 28. Shartin raced first-over in that start and grinded to within three lengths of pacesetter, Nerida Franco. However, Shartin struggled to advance as the leader posted a :27.1 third quarter and looked to kick away on the final turn. Shartin used a :27.3 final panel to wear down Nerida Franco and post a lifetime best 1:50.2 victory. The win boosted her record to 11 wins from 18 starts, good for more than $122,492 in purses.

“She was out a long way. She came first-over and really looked like at best she was going to be second, but she just kept coming and coming,” King said. “She knows where the wire is and how to get there. She’s pretty tough, she can go a long ways.”

Shartin will start from Post 1 in the first division of the Blue Chip Matchmaker’s first leg on Friday night. She is the 7-5 morning line choice with Tim Tetrick in the sulky after her major competition, Mach It A Par and Gina Grace, drew Post 7 and 8, respectively. King will leave the decision making to Tetrick, but is bullish about Shartin’s chances in the series.

“She’s not one that he needs to baby or trip out, I don’t think,” King said. “I feel pretty good about it. I hate to say I’m confident, but I feel pretty good about it. She’s done everything we’ve asked.”

Friday night’s card at Yonkers features four divisions of the Matchmaker Series, spanning races seven through ten. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to Friday’s races, click here.

(SOANY)


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