Bob Baffert's one-two finish in the $200,000 Strub S. Saturday at Santa Anita Park with Shakin It Up and Govenor Charlie gave the trainer a record fifth victory in the 1 1/16-mile race for 4-year-olds.
It was also a big day for Mike Pegram who is co-owner of both horses, as well as Midnight Lute, the sire of both as well. Baffert trained Midnight Lute, who won back-to-back runnings of the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) in 2007-8, for Pegram.
With Govenor Charlie pressing Heir of Storm through the first six furlongs, Shakin It Up was tucked back in third. The pacesetter gave way outside the quarter pole, setting the stage for the stablemates to decide the outcome.
The duo battled closely for a furlong, but Mike Smith, on Shakin It Up, found his best stride late to win by 2 1/4-lengths. The final time was a solid 1:41.86.
“I was so happy with the way he broke. In these types of races there is ‘so-so’ speed in there and if you get away bad you can be way behind a slow pace and then you’ve left yourself too much to make up,” said Smith. “The sharp break played a big part in everything. I was able to get out, get in good position and then make my move, and I may have even gunned him a little early but man did he respond.”
Baffert had praise for the sire and both his horses. “Midnight Lute. I’m telling you; unbelievable. I was never really sure he (Shakin It Up) could go two turns. Today, the way he did it, I was pretty impressed myself the way he did it.
“His demeanor—he’s a quiet horse. The other horse (Govenor Charlie, who was making his first start since last May) ran a big race, too. He’s a good horse. The time was pretty fast. I know Mike, when he worked (Shakin It Up) the other day, he just loved him.”
Shakin It Up, co-owned by Dennis Cardoza, won the Grade 1 Malibu S. on Dec. 26., now has four wins in seven starts, earning $487,600. Govenor Charlie, winner of last year's Sunland Derby and co-owned by Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, has earned $484,800.