(Shotski Wins G2 Remsen Stakes / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

The Jeremiah O’Dwyer-trained Shotski broke on top and never looked back in the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen at Aqueduct Racetrack, continuing a trend of wire-to-wire winners in stakes races on the main track on Cigar Mile Saturday.

The frontrunning fun began in Race 6 at the Big A in the Grade 3 Go for Wand, when the heavily favored Spiced Perfection led every step, and continued in Race 8 in the Grade 2 Demoiselle won by Lake Avenue, who took control of the race for good around the clubhouse turn. Putting an exclamation point on the day, Maximum Security took the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in gate-to-wire fashion one race after the Remsen.

Owned in partnership by Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, Pantofel Stable and Mike Karty, Shotski faced his first two-turn test in the 1 ⅛-mile Remsen for 2-year-olds, entering off a fourth-place finish in the one-mile Street Sense at Churchill Downs in which he finished fourth after stalking the pace.

Unlike the Street Sense, Shotski waited for no one early in the Remsen after breaking sharply from the gate under Luis Saez. The pair went to the front decisively and set honest splits of 24.26 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 50.08 for the half, and 1:15.19 for three-quarters over a tiring track, with Chase Tracker shadowing him to the inside and longshot Prince James to the outside.

Leaving the far turn Saez let Shotski out a notch and the Blame colt responded well, opening up a three-length lead by upper stretch. With only Ajaaweed a threat to his chances down the lane, the advantage proved insurmountable, and Shotski was able to stave off the late run from Ajaaweed to prevail by a half-length.

“We discussed beforehand and Adam [Wachtel, co-owner] is great with analysis and we found that we might be on the front end which we didn’t mind,” said O’Dwyer. “He’s a very laid back horse so I knew he would relax with no problem. Luis said that he did everything right. He doesn’t do any more than he’s asked, but when you ask him he’s there for you.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s really overwhelming,” added O’Dwyer, who picked up his first graded stakes win in the Remsen. “I’m just so blessed to have owners like Adam, Gary [Barber] and other stables that buy into horses we have and leave them with me. It gives me, as a young trainer, confidence in myself.”

Shotski banked $137,500 for his victory, increasing his career earnings to $167,222. He returned $19.60 on a $2 win wager and completed the distance in 1:54.24.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s Ajaaweed, who came into the Remsen off a dull fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, ran a valiant race in defeat upon his return to the NYRA circuit. The 2-year-old son of Curlin mounted a wide rally around the far turn from midpack and never quit in the stretch, steadily chipping away at the margin all the way to the wire.

Behind Ajaaweed, it was 3 ¾ lengths back to Chase Tracker in third and another 6 ¼ lengths to Informative in fourth. Prince James, Alpha Sixty Six, Cleon Jones, Forza Di Oro and Amends completed the order of finish.

For his victory, Shotski picked up 10 points toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby as part of the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ points system, while Ajaaweed earned four, Chase Tracker got two, and Informative nabbed one.

Where Shotski next appears on the Derby Trail is still undecided, but it’s unlikely to be in Aqueduct’s next Derby prep, the $150,000 Jerome on New Year’s Day, according to Wachtel.

“I was just talking to Aron Wellman and we would like to avoid their monster [Independence Hall] and I know they’re going to the Jerome,” said the owner. “I’d rather not run against him. Off this big effort, I’m not in a rush to find a next spot for him. We’ll see how he comes out of it. We’ll keep all options open.”

The Aqueduct fall meet concludes on Sunday with a 10-race card featuring the $100,000 Garland of Roses in Race 4 and the rescheduled Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight in Race 9. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.