Accomplished Florida-bred Yes I Am Free will be in familiar company when trying for his first stakes win of 2024 in the Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland on Saturday. The five-and-a-half furlong turf sprint has attracted a full gate of a dozen 3-year-olds and older, plus one also eligible, who will be competing for the winner’s share of the $350,000 purse.

The Shakertown will be a rematch of the top three finishers from the $106,000 Silks Run on May 9 at Gulfstream Park when Yes I Am Free was caught in the final jumps that day by winner Coppola to finish in a dead heat for second with Panther Island.

The 8-year-old Yes I Am Free was also an uncharacteristic eighth in the $100,000 Janus won by Panther Island with Shakertown entrant Eamonn third at Gulfstream on Dec. 31.

Claimed for $62,500 by trainer Laura Cazares for John and Paula Szalay’s Golden Kernel Racing Stable in April of 2021, Yes I Am Free has since won the Grade 3 Gulfstream Turf Sprint in 2022 and 2023, the 2023 Silks Run plus several overnight handicaps and optional claiming races. His most recent score came on Feb. 4 in an upper level, $62,500 optional claiming going five furlongs on the Gulfstream Park synthetic. He was third in one other start this year, beaten less than a length by Smithwick Spice in the $82,000 Leinster Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 24.

The reliable Yes I Am Free has won 13 with seven seconds and four thirds in 35 career starts with earnings of $784,424. The son of Uncaptured out of Yes It’s Valid, by Yes It’s True was bred by Sherry R. Mansfield and Kenneth H. Davis and is a graduate of Ocala Breeders’ Sales.

He was purchased as a 2-year-old by Justin Casse as agent for $135,000 at the 2018 OBS June Sale where he was consigned by Hawk’s Nest.

Set at 12-1 on the morning line, Yes I Am Free has the outside post 12 and will be ridden by Junior Alvarado for the first time.

The Dale Romans-trained Coppola has a two-race win streak to his credit as the 5-year-old son of Into Mischief won the $125,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint on Feb. 10 before winning the Silks Run.

He has won three of his last four with an allowance victory at Gulfstream in November before finishing fourth in Panther Island’s Janus in December.

Coppola has seven wins with a second and a third in 18 career starts while earning $497,933.

He will be ridden by Edgard Zayas from post 11 and is 6-1 on the morning line.

The 7-2 morning line favorite is Godophin homebred Mischief Magic (Ire), who invades from the middle east with trainer Charles Appleby.

The 4-year-old son of Exceed and Excel (Aus) was third in the Group 3 Dukhan Sprint at Doha Racecourse in Qatar on Feb. 17 in his last race after wining the Dubai Sprint presented by Lincoln Navigator at Meydan Racecourse on Feb. 2.

Tyler Gaffalione has accepted the mount on Mischief Magic and they have drawn post two.

Others set for the Shakertown are Eamonn and jockey Paco Lopez, Sousa Summer with Luis Saez aboard, Beer Can Man and pilot Flavien Prat, Chris Emigh rides Bad Beat Brian, Arzak and rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Let My People Go will be ridden by Martin Garcia, Front Run the Fed and jockey Reylu Gutierrez, Jose Ortiz rides Panther Island and our Shot with jockey Javier Castellano.

Return to the April 5 issue of Wire to Wire