Trainer John Shirreffs said Sunday morning that Eblouissante came out of Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap with minor injuries after acting up in the starting gate.
“She got banged up, but it’s all pretty superficial,” Shirreffs said. “She broke two teeth and grabbed herself in a couple spots on her legs, but nothing really serious.
“I feel really lucky that she didn’t seriously injure herself. I think that’s a credit to the assistant starter, who kept her from flipping over and getting underneath the gate. It was a bad situation but not a tragedy.”
Owned by Maverick Racing, the 4-year-old Eblouissante, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Zenyatta, was making her stakes debut in the Shuvee, her first start in 189 days following an optional claiming victory on January 17 at Santa Anita.
Ridden by Rosie Napravnik, subbing for jockey Junior Alvarado who was banged up earlier on Saturday’s card, Eblouissante bumped with Moon Philly after leaving the gate and ran at the back of the pack, finishing last of six.
“For her, it was [over at the start]. She lost all her focus and everything,” Shirreffs said. “Obviously, it’s disappointing, but it’s one of those things that happens with horses. You can’t always predict the outcome or what they’re going to do. You just accept it and try to improve.”
Shirreffs said Eblouissante had not shown any signs of gate trouble in either of her first two starts.
“Never, but she’s a big horse and the gate is somewhat tight, so she could be a little claustrophobic,” he said. “Who knows what sets a horse off at that moment? Whatever it was, it really set her off.
“We’ll give her a few days to heal up a little bit. Obviously, we’re going to have to take her to the gate and school her, spend a lot of time in the gate and get over whatever it was that set her off. Then we’ll just come back and start over again.”
Shirreffs hopes to get another start for Eblouissante at Saratoga, where the trainer is spending his first full summer this year.
“We’ll look to bring her back probably in a little lower-profile race,” he said. “It’s hard to say until we get her back on the track.”