Photo by Terri Cage
As a storm brewed beyond the grandstand of Lone Star Park on a humid May evening, a gray filly sauntered before onlookers as she was led toward the saddling paddock. Just two years old, she appeared very composed as she strolled along amid her competitors. In the infield, the totes board reflected her low odds, indicating that she was the heavy favorite.
Her name was Fiftyshadesofgold. She’d never raced before, but there had been much buzz about her. She’d compiled a collection of workouts and in those morning works, had made quite the impression. That night would prove if she could live up to the hype.
Alongside nine other rivals, Fiftyshadesofgold loaded into the starting gate on the far side of the track for the five-furlong Texas-bred maiden special weight. Away from the gate in a clean manner, Fiftyshadesofgold quickly found a stalking position in third with jockey Cliff Berry – the all-time leading rider at Lone Star Park – aboard. Making a sweeping move around the far turn, the dark gray filly soared to the lead before the quarter pole, seizing a clear advantage as the field turned for home.
In a mere hand ride from Berry, Fiftyshadesofgold drew away from her opponents with utter effortlessness, her strong strides carrying her toward the wire as she left the other fillies in her wake. The two-year-old filly continued to extend her lead down the lane despite Berry ceasing to ask her. She flashed under the wire ten lengths in front, posting a final time that was just 1.51 seconds off the track record despite being geared down in the late stages of the race. Her win served as trainer Bret Calhoun's 600th Lone Star Park victory.
Photo by Terri Cage
Fiftyshadesofgold is a homebred for Clarence Scharbauer, Jr., former president of the American Quarter Horse Association whose family owned the great Alysheba, Kentucky Derby (GI) winner and 1988 Horse of the Year. Born on the Scharbauers’ beautiful Valor Farm in North Texas, Fiftyshadesofgold’s pedigree is a model of the farm’s bluest blood.
Her sire is My Golden Song, one of the most elite stallions on Valor's strong stallion roster. My Golden Song, who was third behind Barbaro in the 2006 Holy Bull Stakes (GIII), has sired many Texas stakes horses, including the multiple black-type winners Cowgirl N Up and Platinum Song, as well as the additional black-type winners Smiles Golden Song and Triumph And Song. A son of Unbridled’s Song, who has appeared within the top ten sires in the nation six of the past ten years, My Golden Song shares the same sire as many blossoming stallions, including Eurosilver, Even the Score, Political Force, Rockport Harbor, and, most notably, Songandaprayer.
Although Fiftyshadesofgold’s dam, Hadif Cat, encountered little success at the track, the mare has found greater achievements as a broodmare. Since her racing career ended in 2006, Hadif Cat has produced the black-type winners Sword Trick and Tastefullyxcessive, the former of which earned more than $210,000. Hadif Cat is a daughter of the group three-winning Hadif, a former Valor Farm stallion that became one of the most influential sires in Texas. As a broodmare sire, the half-brother to the grade one-winning Secret Hello has produced the dams of many black-type winners, including Early Final, Final Trick, Hadavision, My Three Girls, Sax Appeal, Stormin Quality, and Triumph And Song.
Fiftyshadesofgold’s third dam is Alysbelle, a full sister to Alysheba and a graded stakes victress that placed in a pair of grade ones. She found similar success as a broodmare, producing the multiple group stakes-winning Matikane Kinnohosi and Golden Spur, a horse that earned over $100,000. This makes Fiftyshadesofgold a direct descendant of the Reine De Course mare Belthazar, who was the last foal sired by Triple Crown winner War Admiral.
Texas-breds like Fiftyshadesofgold rarely make a name for themselves on the national scene, but this filly’s chances of becoming a classy stakes horse in the South are high. A talented horse at any level is enjoyable to follow and I eagerly await the remainder of this gifted filly’s career.
|Fiftyshadesofgold after impressively winning her debut|
Photo by Terri Cage