(Trainer Greg Foley / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)
From the Fair Grounds Media Team:
This time of year, when a newly turned 3-year-old colt wins impressively, particularly around two turns, the connections cannot help but think about it.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby, that is.
On Wednesday afternoon at Fair Grounds, in what was just his second career start, Lloyd Madison’s Major Fed won going away, and in doing so he turned hope into expectation for trainer Greg Foley and his team.
“We’re in the game,” assistant trainer Travis Foley, oldest son of Greg, would say following the race.
Three-wide on the first turn, the son of Ghostzapper stalked a moderate pace from fifth of seven early on under Brian Hernandez, Jr. Five-wide on the bend for home, he took full command late and won going away by 4 ¼ lengths. For the effort, Major Fed earned an 87 Bris speed figure and a serious late pace number of 106.
In his only other start on November 23 at Churchill, Major Fed finished a late closing third behind Gold Street, who would return four weeks later to take the Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds.
“He’s a big, good looking horse and he’s always been sound,” Foley said. “We knew he had some talent right from the start. We sprinted him first time out and he was just kind of green and ran into some really nice horses but still put in a good third. Even his win here the other day, I thought he got a good schooling and was a little unexperienced and figuring things out. He’s getting better and better and just hope to keep him happy and going the right direction.”
Major Fed’s dam Bobby’s Babe won only once from 11 lifetime starts, but she’s turned out to be a fantastic broodmare.
“We were lucky to have raced the mare,” said Greg’s son and assistant trainer Travis Foley. “(Bobby’s Babe’s owner) Lloyd Madison has been with us for years. They had (millionaire and multiple graded stakes winner) Champali in the early 2000’s and have just built up their home-bred program.”
Bobby’s Babe has produced Clairenation (2012 * 12-5-0-1 for $192,723), the multiple stakes-placed Zapperini (2013 * 32-3-4-6 for $261,471), the stakes winner May Lily (2014 * 21-4-5-3 for $271,926) and Attorney Tim (2016), who recently broke his maiden over the Fair Grounds turf. Of those, only Zapperini has a dirt win on the resume.
“There are all nice horses in this family,” Foley said. “They’ve all been stakes caliber and have just been knocking on the door waiting for a breakthrough. Most of this mare’s good runners have been turf, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s nice to have Major Fed showing so much talent over the main track.”
“It pumps you up and puts you in the game,” Foley continued. “The way that he did it was visually impressive and it makes it exciting. That’s why you get in this game, to have chances at the big ones and obviously we have a long way to go to get where we want to be but he gives us a chance and that’s all you can ask for.”
As far as where to go next, Foley is uncertain.
“Time wise, it’s not the best,” he said. “It’s a little too quick back for the Lecomte (January 18 at Fair Grounds). We’re still trying to map it all out. He came out of the race really good and is sound.”
“I think he’s bred to go all day,” Foley continued. “Some of his relatives could get a mile and a half and just seeing him kick home the other day you get excited to see how he finished. It looked like he had a ton left in the tank and I think the further the better with him. We’ll see how good he is but distance should not be an issue with this horse.”
(Arklow / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
ON THE WORKTAB:
Arklow (Brad Cox) – Four furlongs in 48.80 B. $1.8 million earner, multiple graded stakes winner including the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1), 8th in Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) last out.
Blended Citizen (Brad Cox) – Four furlongs in :48 B. Multiple graded stakes winner, 2nd in the Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds last out.
Mr. Misunderstood (Brad Cox) – Four furlongs in 48.80 B. Multiple graded stakes winner, victorious in the River City Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs last out.
Mr. Monomoy (Brad Cox) – Four furlongs in 48.20 B. Half-brother to champion Monomoy Girl. Second in allowance last out. Probable for the Lecomte (G3).
Portrait – (Brad Cox) — Four furlongs in :49 B. Third in the Pocahontas (G3) at Churchill last out.
Shedaresthedevil (Simon Callaghan) – Four furlongs 48.20 B. Third in Sorrento Stakes (G3) at Del Mar. Second in Anoakia Stakes last out at Santa Anita.
Warriors Charge (Brad Cox) – Four furlongs 49.80 B. Fourth in 2019 Preakness (G1). Winner of and allowance race off the layoff last out at Fair Grounds.
Seeking the Soul (Dallas Stewart) – Five furlongs 1:00.80 B. Earner of $3.4 million, multiple graded stakes winner including the Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs in 2019.
BY THE NUMBERS:
In a racing rarity, Bret Calhoun scored a natural hat trick on Saturday’s Fair Grounds program, nearly doubling his win total for the meet (7). He won race three with Bold Rey ($7.80), race four with Lawton ($4.40) and race five with Special Blessing ($6.00).