01/06/2016 1:25PM

2015 Eclipse Awards: Lady Shipman

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Barbara D. Livingston
The North American turf-sprint division is usually led by an older male, so Eclipse Award voters surely noticed the fabulous 2015 record compiled by Lady Shipman in that niche when deciding to make her a finalist for female sprinter. Lady Shipman, a 3-year-old filly competing in open company, fell just a neck shy of catching Mongolian Saturday in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in her final start of the year. The filly was so highly regarded that she was the second wagering choice in a field of 14 in the Oct. 31 Turf Sprint.

Bred and owned by the Ranlo Investments LLC of California businessman Randall Lowe, Lady Shipman was based the first few months of 2015 in south Florida before being shipped to New Jersey by trainer Kathleen O’Connell, whose racetrack career began in 1970 in her native Michigan. Lady Shipman is O’Connell’s first Eclipse finalist.

Flaunting her superb turn of foot, the chestnut daughter of Midshipman began her 2015 campaign on New Year’s Day, dominating 3-year-old fillies in a first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park. She then won her first stakes on the Ocala Breeders’ Sales program on Jan. 27, prevailing by eight lengths over the Safetrack synthetic surface in her only non-turf start of the year.

Lady Shipman then had nearly three months between races before another easy win in an ungraded stakes on April 18 at Pimlico. Stretched out to seven furlongs for her next race, the May 16 Wait a While at Belmont Park, the filly was overtaken late when finishing third.

Then came back-to-back stakes wins at Monmouth Park in June and July, followed by a pair of August stakes wins at Saratoga, ending with a 2 3/4-length clobbering of older mares as a 2-5 favorite in the Smart N Fancy. Sent to Keeneland to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup, Lady Shipman was nailed right on the wire by the older Ageless in her final prep, the Oct. 3 Franklin County Stakes. Still, with the Breeders’ Cup looming, it became apparent she was among the major contenders.

Lady Shipman is “a super freak, a stone-cold runner,” O’Connell told Daily Racing Form. “I’ve always said the best thing about her is she’s got a great mind. She’s just been a pleasure to be around.” Despite a tough trip from just off the pace, Lady Shipman was just a couple strides short of catching Mongolian Saturday in the 5 1/2-furlong Turf Sprint.

For the year, Lady Shipman won seven times from 10 starts, with earnings of $513,600. She was ridden in all but two of her 12 career races (including twice at 2) by Eduardo Nunez, with Irad Ortiz Jr. picking up the mount for the Smart N Fancy and the Breeders’ Cup.

Lady Shipman will race as a 4-year-old when trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, whose main winter base is at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida.