03/18/2011 3:16PM

Aqueduct's Wood Memorial among goals for Shivmangal


OZONE PARK, N.Y. − When Doodnauth Shivmangal won two races on Wednesday’s Aqueduct card, it seemed like it could have been a career highlight for an obscure trainer trying to make it on the difficult New York Racing Association circuit.

For Shivmangal, it was reminiscent of another place and another time. In the 1980s, Shivmangal had Guyana Star racing in his native Guyana, a South American country the size of Idaho.

“He won four races in two days with 140 pounds,” Shivmangal, 58, said. “I won 52 races with him in my country.”

New York and Aqueduct are a long way from Guyana and D’Urban Park, but Shivmangal, with emotional and financial support from his family, is hoping to succeed in North America in his second stint as a trainer. In the early 1990s, Shivmangal trained on this circuit before getting out of the game for 15 years.

Since returning, Shivmangal has yet to win the type of races he wants to win − all eight of his victories since last October have come in claiming races − but it’s not for a lack of trying. Buoyed by his cousin Dejainauth Ramnarayn, who races under the banner Kharag Stables, Shivmangal has attended 2-year-old-in-training sales looking for the horse who can put him in the spotlight.

“My expertise is in babies,” said Shivmangal, who has 20 horses stabled at Belmont Park and another dozen or so 2-year-olds on a farm in Ocala, Fla. “I know it’s very hard to compete with these big owners, but I am not afraid.”

Shivmangal is one of the few horsemen already committed to running a horse against the undefeated champion Uncle Mo in the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial here April 9; he said he plans to start Isn’t He Perfect, who finished sixth to Stay Thirsty at odds of 127-1 in the Gotham. First, though, Shivmangal will run Isn’t He Perfect in a starter allowance Sunday at Aqueduct.

Expect to see Isn’t He Perfect closer to the pace Sunday under Eddie Castro than he was in the Gotham, in which he raced in last position for the first six furlongs under Jaime Rodriguez.

“We told Jaime to stay off the pace, and I think we made a mistake, because this horse likes to be up there,” said Shivmangal, who has Eddie Castro to ride Sunday. “I was disappointed the track was so slow that day.”

Isn’t He Perfect, whose only win from nine starts came in a $40,000 maiden claiming race last November, was one of several 2-year-olds Shivmangal purchased at auction in 2010. Harlan’s Hello, a son of Harlan’s Holiday who ran second in his most recent start, and Perfect Coconut, an unraced son of Pleasantly Perfect, are others Shivmangal is high on.

Though he doesn’t consider himself a claiming trainer, Shivmangal on Sunday will also start Sheraguska in a starter handicap that goes as race 7. Shivmangal claimed Sheraguska for $7,500 the day the 5-year-old gelding won by 9 1/4 lengths.

Shivmangal comes from a racing family. His father, Bulla Shivmangal, was a successful trainer in Guyana. His brother, Kalpoo, was a jockey in Guyana. Shivmangal also rode in Guyana but got too heavy and had to quit.

“I have to give thanks and grace to my father,” Shivmangal said. “He was a great man, and he knew about horses. I learned a lot from him.”

Shivmangal migrated to the U.S. in the late 1980s and, without working for any trainer in New York, started his own stable in 1991. He claimed a horse off Allen Jerkens, Miss Tahiti, and won three races with the horse. From 1991-95, he won 17 races from 249 starters.

In 1993, Shivmangal had Nowsthetimetoshine, a California-bred son of Well Decorated. After winning a maiden claiming race, Nowsthetimetoshine won three allowance races, the last one on March 10, 1994. A few weeks later, the horse died because of laminitis. It was a loss that had Shivmangal reeling.

“He wasn’t like a horse to us, he was like a son to our family,” Shivmangal said. “We’d come visit him at night at the barn.”

Ten months later, in early 1995, Shivmangal got out of the game. He was having difficulty getting help, and he was operating a freight trucking company out of JFK Airport that needed his attention.

In 2006, Shivmangal attempted to get back in the game, buying a horse at auction. But the son of Pentelicus foundered and died. It wasn’t until 2009, with a push from his cousin Dejainauth, that Shivmangal got back in.

In addition to his cousin getting him back in the game, Shivmangal said he runs a family stable that includes his wife, Zalimoon, sons Harry and Kevin; and daughters Lolita and Sherie.

“We’re a close-knit family,” Shivmangal said. “We’re looking to take it further.”