08/11/2016 9:38AM

Hoosier: Shamballa seeks another signature victory in Dan Patch

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Shamballa was an upset winner in the U.S. Pacing Championship.

There has been plenty of ink devoted to the Indiana originations of world champions Wiggle It Jiggleit, Freaky Feet Pete and Always B Miki, but the horse that paced home in front of that trio in last Saturday’s $225,550 U.S. Pacing Championship also is indelibly linked to the Hoosier State as Shamballa’s dam resides in Shipshewana at Cornerstone Stock Farm.

Therefore, his performance in this Friday’s (Aug. 12) edition of the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes, his rise to prominence in the sport and his presence in the state’s signature harness racing event also speaks volumes for the extraordinary success of the Indiana program.

Despite competing in Canada for the majority of his career and his first breath not being drawn in Indiana, Shamballa’s connections already had targeted an appearance in the Dan Patch prior to his upset victory at 8-1 on Hambletonian day and his appearance in Anderson is yet another testimonial to the potent force of this sport within the confines of “The Land of the Indians.”

“We were still in the winner’s circle and right away it was announced he was going to the Dan Patch,” said Howard Taylor, who co-owns the horse with Rick Zeron, TAO Racing and Cool Cat Racing. “I was so thrilled with his win, it took me a minute to process.  I’m just blessed I have the opportunity to be involved with this horse, so I’m not directly involved with his schedule, but I was shocked Rick would race him again with that kind of turnaround. He has always managed Shamballa very conservatively throughout his career and never really liked to race him back-to-back weeks, but he knows this horse better than anyone and everyone is just excited about him as well as the race.”

Trained by Rick Zeron, Shamballa will commence his journey from post position seven with regular reinsman Scott Zeron in the bike in the 12th contest on Friday’s card. Although he enters this event fresh off a sublime pacing performance, he is 6-1 on the morning line behind favorite Always B Miki (8-5, post eight), Wiggle It Jigglieit (2-1, post one) and Freaky Feet Pete  (5-1, post two).

“Hoosier Park should be an excellent fit for this horse,” Taylor said. “He comes with that one powerful run and the long stretch there should suit him.”

The 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere and the Life Sign mare Bolero Takara, Shamballa is the seventh foal out of his extremely prolific dam. The mare earned $516,153 while competing primarily in Canada during her two-year-career. She was a perfect 11-for-11 as a freshman and capped off that campaign with two victories at The Red Mile.  As a sophomore, she was 7-2-2-0 with one of the seconds in the $764,400 Breeders Crown for her age, gait and gender.

Bolero Takara proved just as reliable in the breeding shed. Shamballa has earned the most money ($680,878) from (her 10 offspring, but the gelding’s elder half siblings Bolero Taishi (The Panderosa, $490,4047), Charles (Jenna’s Beach Boy, $563,134), Bolero Tallia (Art’s  Conquest, $234,184) and Bolero Andrew (Bettor’s Delight, $291,490) set the standard long before this horse’s hooves ever hit the ground.

She was purchased by Cornerstone Stock Farm in 2011 and has produced two foals for her new owners, the unraced 3-year-old Chest Rockwell  (Panspacificflight) and the 2-year-old Takara Rose (Always A Virgin, $5,525).

Unraced at age two, Shamballa was purchased privately as a yearling and began his career with conditioner Fred Grant at Pompano Park. He compiled a record of 11-5-0-0 and banked just over $53,000 in his first season of competition.

In 2014, the gelding entered Rick Zeron’s barn in June of that year when he became the property of his trainer and TAO Racing. Zeron steered and schooled the 4-year-old through a campaign which consisted of seven wins, two second place finishes, two thirds and $86,122 from 15 trips to the post for his new connections.

Last year, Shamballa served notice he was a force to be reckoned with.  His seasonal slate was 16-8-3-1 and he collected $286,901 in purse money.  He competed primarily in preferred company in Canada but was a swiftly closing second with a blistering final quarter panel  of :26 4/5 in the $513,750 Canadian Pacing Derby to champion State Treasurer and second to that rival again in the $138,500 Dayton Pacing Derby.

While the gelding was enjoying his winter sojourn, Zeron contacted Taylor and offered him a piece of the horse.

“I had horses with Rick and I’ve known him a long time,” Taylor said. “When he asked me if I wanted to buy in on him, I felt fortunate. I had been watching this horse and he has a wicked brush to him. He was as fast as anything out there at the end of the race. You could always count on him to be flying at the end and I knew Rick had taken good care of him.”

Since Taylor became involved with Shamballa, the horse has amassed $272,045, composed a resume of 9-3-2-2 and lowered his lifetime mark to 1:47 1/5 with his U.S. Pacing Championship triumph. His connections are confident he is a player in the older pacing division, which has been dominated by what everyone in the sport has been referring to as “The Big Three” and the Dan Patch will demonstrate how substantial his bid is for divisional glory.

“I always knew this horse had ability and would demonstrate that,” Taylor said. “Did I think he could pace with those guys? I know he could be competitive because he has that kind of speed. Rick knows the horse, Scott knows how to drive him and they take great care of him. Rick said he was training great going into that race and is still doing very well. If you look at his two races before that he was right there with Always B Miki in the Haughton and in the last race at Mohawk he was locked in. Rick has him ready right now and I think he definitely belongs in the Dan Patch. Honestly, I think at this point you can throw a blanket over him with The Big Three because he’s right there. We just hope things go well for him at Hoosier and he races well.”

--edited release (Kim French/USTA)