ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 18, 2014)–An impressive late running winner of the opening day Malibu Stakes going seven furlongs, the Bob Baffert-trained Shakin It Up answered any lingering questions about his ability to go two turns with an emphatic 2 ¼ length win in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita, getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.86 under Mike Smith.

Well beaten in his only previous two-turn attempt, the 1 1/8 miles Sunland Derby on March 24, Shakin It Up was dispatched as the 3-1 second choice in the eight-horse Strub, a race restricted to horses four years of age. A comfortable third, 2 ¼ lengths behind speedy Heir of Storm around the Club House turn, Shakin It Up overtook stablemate Governor Charlie three sixteenths of a mile out and won going away.

“I was really impressed,” said Smith, who rode Shakin It Up for the first time on Saturday. “My main concern was the distance today…He certainly has developed into a bigger, stronger colt. I think he can get a mile and an eighth and after that, it’s no man’s land.”

By Midnight Lute and bred in Kentucky by Mike Pegram, Shakin It Up is owned by Pegram and former U.S. Congressional Representative Dennis Cardoza. He paid $8.20, $5.00 and $3.20.

With the winner’s share of $120,000, Shakin It Up now has earnings of $487,600. Lightly raced, he’s now 7-4-1-1 overall.

“I was never really sure he could go two turns,” said Baffert. “Today, the way he did it, I was pretty impressed myself…The time was pretty fast…I know Mike, when he worked him the other day, he just loved him. I don’t think there’s a limit (to how far he could run) the way he ran today.”

Governor Charlie, a runaway winner of the Sunland Derby and idle since well beaten in the Preakness Stakes May 18, sat second as expected to Heir of Storm, made the lead leaving the quarter pole and was second-best, finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of 7-5 favorite Hear the Ghost.

“Governor Charlie, I always thought he was the better of the two last year,” said Baffert. “Governor Charlie ran pretty brave today off that long layoff.”
Off at 6-1, Governor Charlie, also by Midnight Lute, paid $7.60 and $4.40.

Ridden by Corey Nakatani, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Hear the Ghost came off a close second in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes Dec. 14 and the son of Ghostzapper was making his third start Saturday following a long layoff.

Mid pack early, Hear the Ghost had four lengths to make up turning for home but couldn’t menace the top two while wide-out through the lane.

“They ran awful fast,” said Nakatani. “His natural style is to have a couple in front of him and have a target to run at. We just couldn’t make up any ground. Mike’s horse ran a tremendous race.”

Seldom loquacious in defeat, Hollendorfer, when asked about the trip Hear the Ghost had, responded, “He ran third.”

Hear the Ghost paid $2.60 to show.

Fractions on the race were 23.98, 47.06, 1:10.73 and 1:35.50.

Santa Anita will offer a nine-race program on Sunday, with first post time at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. and the Grade II, $200,000 La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, will serve as the afternoon’s feature.