News & Barn notes

Former Navy Pilot Turned Trainer Kyle Horlacher Eyeing Saturday’s $100,000 Goldwood Stakes For Speedy Shoshanah

June 20, 2024

After retiring as a Navy pilot in December of 2020, Kyle Horlacher faced a difficult decision about what his next career move would be. Most of his friends, said the 22-year service veteran, “went to the airlines.”

Horlacher wanted to try something different. So he became a Thoroughbred trainer.

The star of his two-horse stable, a 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred mare named Shoshanah, has been cross-entered in two upcoming turf sprints. One is the $100,000 Goldwood Stakes, the 5½-furlong feature that headlines Monmouth Park’s Saturday card. The other is the Power By Far Stakes at five furlongs on Monday at Parx.

Weather, said Horlacher, will be the deciding factor.

“I think she will like Monmouth Park’s turf course better than the one at Parx,” said Horlacher, whose only other horse in training is an unraced 3-year-old named Dirty Gold. “Monmouth has a beautiful turf course. But she also likes five furlongs a little better than 5½.

“I’ll watch the weather. Monmouth Park has a great turf course and it will be tough to pass up that race and wait for a chance of rain on Monday. By Friday afternoon I’ll make the call.”

Shoshanah, also bred and partly owned (along with Suanne Hallman) by Horlacher, arrives off a solid effort in her seasonal debut, when she finished second in the Very One Stakes at Pimlico on May 17 off a six-month layoff. Future is Now, who won that turf sprint, went on to capture the Grade 2 Intercontinental Stakes at Saratoga on June 6 in her next start.

A daughter of Weigella, Shoshanah has five wins and four seconds from 14 career starts. She has three wins and a second from four career turf sprint tries.

“The layoff was really more for me,” said the 51-year-old Horlacher, whose grandfather, Nate Heyman, was a trainer and owned horses. “I like to take three months off in the winter. But it’s also great for the horses. We bring them to the farm and they get to go out in the field and be a horse and do nothing but run around and eat enjoy themselves.”

The Goldwood Stakes, for fillies and mares three and up, drew a field of 10 (plus two alternates), with Shoshanah having defeated five of those horses in The Very One Stakes.

“But they were getting close to her,” said Horlacher. “That is why that extra 110 yards is worrisome.”

Since he started training in 2021, after dabbling briefly in breeding and selling horses, Horlacher has an impressive 6-5-2 line from just 24 starters overall.

Shoshanah won three races and had two seconds from her six starts a year ago, banking $102,682.

“She ran well (in her seasonal debut),” said Horlacher. “We really didn’t have her up to 100 percent because of a couple of setbacks she had when we were getting her ready to get started again.

“What’s great about her is she is one-dimensional. She is just going to run as fast as she can for as long as she can. There is no rating her. She just has to go.”

Martina Rojas has been enlisted to ride Shoshanah for the third straight time.

If Horlacher does send Shoshanah to the Goldwood Stakes it will mark his first time at Monmouth Park since taking his family to see Rachel Alexandra win the 2009 Haskell Stakes.

“But I’ve never had the opportunity to come back or start a horse there,” said Horlacher, who owned horses while he was in the Navy.

Shoshanah also prefers a firm turf course – another reason to lean toward the Monmouth Park feature with rain in the forecast for Monday in the Northeast, he said.