Chris Pallas flew Florida-based rider Edwin Gonzalez up to New York to ride his homebred Shifty She and Gonzalez delivered with a 1 1/2 length tally aboard the 5-year-old mare in the $200,000 Noble Damsel Stakes (G3T) Oct. 23 at Belmont Park.
Pallas, who co-bred the mare in Florida with George Klein, and co-owns Shifty She with Harvey Rothenberg, said he was thrilled to see the daughter of Gone Astray make the grade after missing all of her 4-year-old season.
"She had a little leg injury last year so we gave her a lot of time off and it's proved to be the right thing. Just look at the time, she finished in 1:33 and change, that's racehorse time," Pallas said. "In this game, you've got to be very patient. Patience is the key. The little guys like us, sometimes we can play in the big leagues. I flew my jockey up today and it paid off for us."
Gonzalez had piloted Shifty She to prominent stakes scores in the Powder Bay Stakes in May and Ginger Punch Stakes in June, both at Gulfstream Park.
The Saffie Joseph Jr. trainee broke alertly from post 4 and marked the opening quarter-mile in :23.33 over the firm going with Tamahere, last-out winner of the Violet Stakes at Monmouth Park, tracking from second under Irad Ortiz, Jr. as one of two contenders for trainer Chad Brown, who had won the last five renewals.
Tamahere loomed large outside of Shifty She as High Opinion advanced three-wide through the turn with In a Hurry pressing on from a rail-riding position after a half-mile in :46.20. But Shifty She kicked on strong from the top of the lane and never wavered en route to a 1 1/2-length win in a final time of 1:33.24.
High Opinion chased gamely to the wire to complete the exacta over the late-running Flower Point.
The victory marked the first NYRA circuit stakes win for Gonzalez, who took over from Ortiz, who had guided Shifty She to a third-place finish in the De La Rose Stakes in August at Saratoga Race Course and a close fourth in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3T) in September.
"She's a very nice filly and she was comfortable up front. She was nice and relaxed and I waited until the last eighth of a mile to run," Gonzalez said.
Jockey Luis Saez said the Tony Dutrow-trained High Opinion, who finished a nose shy of victory in the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2T) in August at Saratoga, was game in defeat.
"The winner just kept going. We made our move and I thought we were going to be right there," Saez said. "My filly ran really big. She always tries pretty hard. Today we were second best, but she always puts in a good effort."
The first stakes winner from four foals produced from the Strong Hope mare Perilous Hope, Shifty She is related to one other winner. Only the dam's most recent foal, 4-year-old Fivejayz (Csaba) is unraced.
Pallas said Shifty She ($15.20) will now target the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf (G3T) Jan. 29 at Gulfstream. She banked $110,000 in victory while improving her record to 6-0-1 from 10 starts.