07/31/2013 5:03PM

Saratoga: Shirreffs has tough start to meet

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Barbara D. Livingston
The spot for Eblouissante’s next start is uncertain.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer John Shirreffs' first summer at Saratoga hasn’t gotten off to a very good start.

His first starter, Zenyatta’s baby sister Eblouissante, acted up in the gate as the field was being loaded for the Shuvee, suffering some minor bumps and bruises, was bumped after the break, and ultimately finished sixth and last in her stakes debut. Last Sunday, Shirreffs’ top sprinter, Mentor Cane, finished fourth in the Grade 2 Amsterdam after bearing out badly throughout much of the race.

Shirreffs said both horses emerged from their races in good order, and he is hoping a little time and experience will result in a better experience for both 3-year-olds here later this summer.

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“He came out of the race fine, he’s just green,” Shirreffs of Mentor Cane, who was beaten less than three lengths despite losing significant ground around the turn and into the stretch of the Amsterdam.

“He’s never done that before. Sometimes he’s lugged in a little bit, but he’s never lugged out. I really don’t know why. Racing will help him. He’s a big, strong horse. We’ll just have to make sure that he carries the bit in his mouth and doesn’t grab one side or the other.”

Shirreffs said Mentor Cane will be pointed for the Grade 1 King’s Bishop on Aug. 24.

Eblouissante suffered her first defeat in three starts when she returned from a six-month hiatus in the Shuvee.

“She’s also doing okay, although she’s still a little muscle-sore from falling on her butt,” reported Shirreffs. “She also had a tooth knocked out at the gate, but fortunately it was a temporary tooth. She has a permanent tooth coming in behind.”

Shirreffs said Eblouissante is back galloping on a regular basis, although he is uncertain where or when she may start next.

“I hope to run her here again,” said Shirreffs. “It depends on how quickly she bounces back. Whether she makes her next start in another stakes or an allowance race is something we’ll still have to determine.”

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
I do not know how anyone can say Shirreffs ducks serious competition, as some commenters here have said! He has campaigned several successful horses, including Mr. Commons, Giacomo and others. Zenyatta's unbeaten career was put on the line 20 times, and twice at the Classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, once with success and once with a narrow defeat but with her status as one of the greatest mares of all time intact. No one can watch either the BCC 2009 and 2010 and not come away with respect for what she accomplished. BCC2010 was probably her finest hour and proved she belongs with other horses for the ages. Even Rachel didn't win (or even run in) a 1 1/4 mi race. And, people often forget that Z ran and won two Apple Blossoms at Oaklawn, on the dirt, and both races were won by some of her widest margins. As to not running her in the ground (like Rachel), boy I am so glad he didn't! We got to enjoy her career for 3 years and she has been a huge blessing in the breeding shed as well, dropping foals like it's "no big deal". She was and is the "complete" and consummate champion. She was THE draw whenever she showed up. The handle, tv viewership, and attendance were all down by 10%-11% at the 2011 Breeders Cup, attributed to there being no Zenyatta, She dominated the Breeders Cup for three years, and the NTRA Moment of the year was Zenyatta all three years. She influenced and dominated the sport in positive ways every time she stepped onto the track, and as Dottie has said, "She carried all that is good about the sport with her every time she crossed the finish line!" And off the track, she continues to be a positive influence, through charitable work and her efforts have provided thousands in contributions to many worthwhile causes. An unbelievable number of charities and rescue efforts owe much to Z influencing so many to participate in these efforts. Her 126,000+ Facebook fans are an army of volunteers and fans who donate to many horse causes. Yep, I think Shirreffs should be tarred and feathered for the way he mishandled Z! LOL
ctgreyhound More than 1 year ago
I know one horse does not a trainer make, but it's hard to second guess Shirreffs when he took all the time needed with Zenyatta and we know how that turned out.
carol More than 1 year ago
Ebby is 4yr....not 3....and was bred to be a broodmare for her owner
Eric Rickard More than 1 year ago
I am all for giving horses time to develop; but Shirrefs takes it to far!. This horse looked lights out , gave it 6 months off and returns in GR1. Was awful. Lets see, another 3-4 months off and than another race. What ever happened to race experience.
Rachel Harding More than 1 year ago
Ebby's breeder stated that she is more of a broodmare prospect than a racehorse, John very well might be going light on her with that in mind. I know, it bugs me like crazy too, I love seeing her race, she's a real beauty to behold. There's also the fact that she's still growing in her body even tho she's 4 1/2 yrs old now, horses aren't really mature til age 5. He's got many options for her in the future.
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
eric, quick question before you second guess J.S...... how many horses have you trained ?...how about champions ?....oh none ...thought so.....
therealdubwhite More than 1 year ago
Good Point Lawrence, Eric may not have trained any champions but Sheriffs has trained all of 1 Champion who he raced while ducking serious competition the likes of horses running on the East Coast. Great point you made though, I'd bet that you'd be amazed to find that Eric is only 20 wins behind shirreffs in 2012, 25 wins in 2011 and 14 wins in 2010. Great stats. Good points Lawrence. lol
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
eric, I wish horses ran more also..buts its a sad fact that times have changed and the breed has changed..probably for the worst.