Saturday Night Fever: Stakes Roundup at Churchill Downs

(Beyond Blame wins the Regret / Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography & Churchill Downs)

From the Media Team at Churchill Downs:

G3 Regret Stakes:Pop a Top LLC’s homebred Beyond Blame rallied at the top of the stretch and held off Go Noni Go and Heavenly Love to capture Saturday night’s 49th running of the $100,000 Regret Stakes (GIII) presented by Cintas.

Beyond Blame, ridden by Florent Geroux and trained by Brad Cox, ran 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf in 1:48.94 while defeating 12 other 3-year-old fillies.

“It’s great to be able to perform at the top level on a big Saturday like this,” Geroux said. “She got into some trouble in her last start but tonight she settled nicely into the first turn and was able to relax just off the speed. She tried really hard down the lane once she took the lead to hold off the other horses. Credit to Brad and his entire team. It’s been a great night.”

Beyond Blame, the 7-2 favorite in the wagering, paid $9, $5.20 and $3.60. Go Noni Go, with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard, paid $13.20 and $7.40. Heavenly Love closed late to finish third and returned $4. Secret Message, Cash Out, Finess Bere (FR), Kabella, Stave, Lemon Princess, She’s Pretty Lucky, Go Google Yourself, Consolida (GB) and Romantic Moment completed the order of finish.

Romantic Moment set a swift pace of :23.50 for the first quarter mile, :47.13 for the half and 1:11.43 for six furlongs before Go Noni Go took the lead with three-eighths of a mile to go. With Beyond Blame racing on the inside in fourth, the daughter of Blame captured the lead with an eighth mile remaining while holding off the late charge of eventual third-place Heavenly Love.

Beyond Blame improved her record to 6-3-2-0 with $123,040 in earnings.

REGRET QUOTES

Florent Geroux, jockey of BEYOND BLAME (winner): “It’s great to be able to perform at the top level on a big Saturday like this. She got into some trouble in her last start but tonight she settled nicely into the first turn and was able to relax just off the speed. She tried really hard down the lane once she took the lead to hold off the other horses. Credit to Brad and his entire team. It’s been a great night.”

Brad Cox, trainer of BEYOND BLAME (winner): “If you just simply cross off her last race, she hasn’t run a bad race in her life. She proved tonight she was very versatile and could have some nice races in her future this summer.”

Mike Smith, jockey of GO NONI GO (runner-up): “She was closing well in the lane but we just couldn’t get there in time. She tried hard and ran a good race overall.”

(Blue Prize Wins the Fleur de Lis / Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography & Churchill Downs)

G2 Fleur de Lis Stakes:

Merriebelle Stable LLC’s 5-year-old Argentina-bred mare Blue Prize (ARG) rallied down the stretch to run down pacesetter Farrell and win Saturday night’s 43rd running of the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap Presented by Budweiser (Grade II) at Churchill Downs by 1 ½ lengths.

Ridden by New York-based Jose Ortiz for trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Correas IV ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.02 to bank the $119,040 first prize and secure a berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3 because the race for fillies and mares is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” stakes event. Currently, Blue Prize (ARG) is not Breeders’ Cup nominated.

Runner-up Farrell attempted to wire the field of nine as she dictated terms through quarter-mile splits of :23.97, :48.57 and 1:12.45. Blue Prize (ARG) chased the pace early and fanned five wide on the far turn to drive past Farrell in deep stretch for the win.

Blue Prize (ARG), the 2-1 favorite at 118 pounds, returned $6.60, $4.40 and $3. Farrell, with Jose Ortiz up as the 119-pound starting high weight, paid $7.60 and $5.80. Mopotism, ridden by Mario Gutierrez under 118 pounds, was another three lengths back in third and returned $4.20. Awestruck, Song of Spring, Valadorna, Fuhriously Kissed, Streamline and Apologynotaccepted completed the order of finish.

Blue Prize (ARG) improved her record to five wins, seven seconds and one third in 14 starts with earnings of $605,233.

Blue Prize (ARG) is a daughter of Pure Prize out of the Not For Sale (ARG) mare Blues for Sale (ARG) and was bred by Bioart S.A.

The Fleur de Lis, which means “Flower of the Lily,” honors the French symbol that is incorporated into the city of Louisville’s flag.

FLEUR DE LIS HANDICAP QUOTES

JOSE ORTIZ, jockey of BLUE PRIZE (ARG) (winner): “This horse is very tactical. I let her save ground and when we started asking her to go she just took off. I’m very happy with her effort tonight and I know she’ll do well in the future.”

IGNACIO CORREAS IV, trainer of BLUE PRIZE (ARG) (winner): “This filly absolutely loves it here at Churchill Downs, as do I. It was a great race from her and it sets her up for a good year with the Breeders’ Cup back here in November. She’s improved since we got her form Argentina and I think she’s just getting better.”

CHANNING HILL, jockey on FARRELL (runner-up): “This is probably the best race she’s run. I give a lot of credit to the winner. She came and chased me down. I couldn’t believe she got outrun. This filly kicked on and she did everything I asked today – I mean everything. Today was the first day that she put her head down and really tried hard all the way to the wire. I’ve got to give her a lot of credit to the winner. I couldn’t believe she run by me that easy.”

WAYNE CATALANO, trainer of FARRELL (runner-up): “She ran a very good race and we’re proud of her. Obviously we all like to win, but she ran good. She went out there and did what she was supposed to do, but just wasn’t quite good enough.”

Q: This was her first really terrific race a mile and an eighth … “I don’t think the distance is that much of a problem. She can get it. She might like a mile and a sixteenth a little better, but they write the race like that write the race.”

(Mr. Misunderstood, #5, rallies to win the Wise Dan Stakes / Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography & Churchill Downs)

G2 Wise Dan Stakes:

Staton Flurry’s 4-year-old gelding Mr. Misunderstood remained perfect in three starts on the Churchill Downs turf course when he surged past Mr Cub in the final yards to beat a closing Inspector Lynley by a half-length in Saturday night’s 29th running of the $200,000 Wise Dan (Grade II). Mr Cub was another head back in third and 2017 Eclipse Award Champion Turf Male World Approval finished sixth as the 6-5 favorite after being bumped and squeezed at the start.

Ridden by Florent Geroux and trained by Brad Cox, Mr. Misunderstood ran 1 1/16 miles over firm turf in 1:41.83 to collect his sixth stakes win and first against Grade II company.

Mr Cub, ridden by Chris Landeros, set the pace through fractions of :24.70, :48.75 and 1:12.73 as Mr. Misunderstood overcame a hard bump at the start and settled in a tracking position in fourth. Mr. Misunderstood angled off the rail on the far turn and rallied in the stretch to edge past Mr Cub three wide in the final stages.

The victory was worth $121,520 and boosted Mr. Misunderstood’s bankroll to $574,714 with a record of 17-10-2-0.

Mr. Misunderstood returned $7.60, $4.40 and $3.60 as the 5-2 second betting choice. Inspector Lynley, ridden by Jose Ortiz, returned $7.60 and $5.80. Mr Cub paid $5.20 to show. It was another neck back to Divisidero who was followed by Parlor, World Approval and Flatlined. Shining Copper was scratched.

Mr. Misunderstood, a son of Archarcharch out of the Afternoon Deelites mare Jodys Deelite, was bred in Kentucky by Athens Woods.

The Wise Dan, formerly known as the Firecracker until 2016, was renamed to honor Mort Fink’s 2012-13 Horse of the Year that compiled a remarkable lifetime record of 31-23-2-0—$7,7552,920 from 2010-14, including seven Churchill Downs wins and two Firecracker triumphs.

WISE DAN QUOTES

FLORENT GEROUX, jockey of MR. MISUNDERSTOOD (winner): “This horse isn’t the biggest horse in the world but does very well covered up behind some of the other bigger ones in front of him. When I tipped him out he really dug in. He didn’t run bad in his last start (the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland) but we knew he was better than that. He proved today he’s right up there with some of the best turf horses in the country.”

BRAD COX, trainer of MR. MISUNDERSTOOD (winner): “I think we may have rushed him a bit getting back from the Maker’s 46 at Keeneland. He ran well but I think the three weeks between races was a bit too much, especially running in a Grade I. We gave him a bit more time off and pointed for the Wise Dan and he proved he could compete with some of the top horses on the grass.”

STATON FLURRY, owner of MR. MISUNDERSTOOD (winner): “Brad and his team have done such a phenomenal job with this horse. I was up here two weeks ago when he breezed over the grass and looked phenomenal. I said after the Maker’s 46 we needed to get a little bit luckier in the Grade I and Grade IIs and that happened tonight.”

CHRIS LANDEROS, jockey of MR CUB (third): “He ran such a big race on the front end. I’m so proud of his effort. He was just a few strides away from winning. He ran a great race.”

IAN WILKES, trainer of MR CUB (third): “He ran such a great race. We almost had it. He simply ran too good to lose.”

MARK CASSE, trainer of WORLD APPROVAL (sixth as the favorite): “I guess the track’s a little loose. He (jockey John Velazquez) said that every time he’d start to accelerate he’d kind of lose his footing. He said he’s never done that before, so I don’t know. Johnny did a good job. We got roughed-up a little bit at the start, but he got him out of there and got him in good position.”

Q: Is he the same horse?: “Well, he trains and looks as good, but so far his last two performances haven’t looked it, so I don’t know. It’s our job to figure that out.”

Q: Again, could you talk about World Approval’s issues at the start? “Johnny knows him better than anybody, and he said he’s never struggled with a turf course like he struggled tonight. He said that every time he’d run about three or four strides, they call it ‘pitchin,’ and he said that’s what he kept doing. I don’t know, because he handles all kinds of turf.”

JOHN VELAZQUEZ, jockey on WORLD APPROVAL (sixth as the favorite): “He just didn’t run his race at all. I was just telling Mark (trainer Mark Casse) it feels like the grass is very loose. He’s run in the soft and he’s run on the firm turf, but this just feels like it’s just coming up underneath of him and he’s not really getting a grip of it. And then he just didn’t run.”

(King Zachary shocks Ax Man to win Matt Winn Stakes / Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography & Churchill Downs)

Matt Winn Stakes:

Churchill Downs’ all-time leader trainer Dale Romans ran 1-2 in Saturday’s night’s 21strunning of the $100,000 Matt Winn (Grade III) for 3-year-olds as Tom Conway’s King Zachary comfortably beat stablemate Tiz Mischief by 4 ¾ lengths. Odds-on 1-2 favorite Ax Man, from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, came up empty at the top of the stretch and faded to a distant third.Ridden by veteran Robby Albarado, King Zachary tracked pacesetters Tiz Mischief and Ax Man, who led the field of six through comfortable quarter-mile fractions of :24.55, :48.09 and 1:12.15. Midway around the final turn, King Zachary swung three wide and drove past the leaders under a brisk drive to clock 1 1/16 miles over a fast track and collect his first stakes win.

The victory was worth $61,380 and boosted King Zachary’s bankroll to $172,650 with a record of 6-3-0-2.

King Zachary returned $26.60, $10 and $4.40 at odds of 12-1. Tiz Mischief, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $12.40 and $4.40 and finished eight lengths in front of Ax Man who paid $2.10 to show under Mike Smith.

Funny Duck, Combatant and Home Base completed the order of finish. Navy Armed Guard was scratched.

King Zachary is a Kentucky-bred son of Curlin out of the Giant’s Causeway mare On My Way. He was bred by Waymore LLC.

The Matt Winn honors the famed Churchill Downs president and general manager that served as the driving force in the development of Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby.

MATT WINN QUOTES

ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey of KING ZACHARY (winner): “This horse keeps getting better with each start. I can’t thank Dale and Mr. Conway enough for letting me ride this horse. I think we are setting ourselves up for a big year with this horse. Dale gave me a lot of confidence this week. When Corey went to the lead with Tiz Mischief I just settled and sat right off the pace. It worked perfectly.”

COREY LANERIE, jockey of TIZ MISCHIEF (runner-up): “I wasn’t expecting to be on the lead. Once he broke he put his ears straight up and we went on with it. He ran such a huge race. I thought we had a shot but I’m really proud of the way he ran tonight.”

DALE ROMANS, trainer of KING ZACHARY (winner) and TIZ MISCHIEF (runner-up): “What a race. King Zachary just keeps getting better every time we see him. I was confident entering the race that he’d run a big effort. I know Ax Man was the horse to beat but was confident with my horses. Tiz Mischief was a real surprise. He proved himself tonight that he can compete with some of the best 3-year-olds in the country.”

MIKE SMITH, jockey on AX MAN (third as the favorite): “He just completely lost it. I’ve never seen him act like that. He was so bad. We couldn’t even get the ear-things out of his ears. I don’t know how he got to the gate in one piece, and then he got in there he went to tearing them up. He was kicking at the gate with both back legs. He stopped for a second when they kicked (the starting gate), then he kicked again and I got completely left.”

BOB BAFFERT, trainer of AX MAN, third as the favorite): “He was just never comfortable in there. Mike said he was a handful all the way around. He’s not a horse that travels well, so he should be better when he gets back home.”

I thought she got a good trip in the pocket,” Brown said regarding Significant Form. “I don’t really have any excuse other than I think we found out today she probably doesn’t want to run that far. As evidenced by her not being able to hold on for second in the deep stretch, it was clear who the winner was going to be, it was a matter of who was going to finish second. Her being unable to do that was the most telling part about her distance limitations.”

Chad Brown, Trainer of fourth-place finisher Significant Form

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