Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Flavius surged to the lead at midstretch and held off a late charge from defending champion Snapper Sinclair by three-quarters of a length to win the 23rd running of the $645,700 Tourist Mile to cap the WinStar Farm opening-day program of the six-day RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs.
Earlier on the 11-race program, 2-year-olds Barrister Tom and Plum Ali won the Look For The Star Juvenile and Mint Juvenile Fillies, respectively and Dalika (GER) captured the One Dreamer.
In the Tourist Mile, Flavius gave trainer Chad Brown his first Kentucky Downs stakes victory. Javier Castellano was aboard the 5-year-old son of War Front out of the Dynaformer mare Starformer.
Ivar (BRZ), Blitzkrieg and Neptune’s Storm made up the pace as Flavius raced in mid pack with Snapper Sinclair at the rear of the nine-horse field.
Castellano sent Flavius after the leaders in upper stretch, opened a daylight margin and had enough to hold off Snapper Sinclair while timed in 1:32.21. Kentucky Downs is not calling them course records as the track is testing Equibase’s Gmax tracking and timing system that utilizes GPS technology. That system is establishing a more consistent starting point.
The Tourist Mile victory was worth $446,400 and increased his earnings to $518,651 with a record of 7-3-1-1. It is the first stakes victory in the United States for Flavius, who began his career in Ireland.
Flavius returned $10, $5.60 and $4. Snapper Sinclair, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $8.20 and $6.20 and finished a length in front of Ivar who paid $7.20 to show under Joe Talamo. Snapper Sinclair was trying to become the first three-time Kentucky Downs stakes-winner, having also won the track’s 2-year-old stakes in 2017.
It was another length back to Neptune’s Storm who was followed in order by Next Shares, Blitzkrieg, Parlor, Emmaus (IRE) and Ritzy A.P.
Chad Brown, who until this meet had only one prior starter at Kentucky Downs, also won the third race with the 2-year-old filly Fluffy Socks.
Javier Castellano, winning jockey Flavius: “He broke so well out of the gate today. I think that was the key to winning the race. Usually he breaks slow. For whatever reason, he got better and better. He put me in a good spot early in the race. All the time before he was too far back, and he always came late. Today he put me in good position. When I asked him, he responded so well. I’m glad the way he did it today. I wasn’t disappointed in him before; he always tried hard. Maybe he liked the track today, European style, up and down, curves. I think he really liked it and enjoyed the trip.”
Whit Beckman, assistant to winning trainer Chad Brown (Flavius): “He came to Churchill Downs last Monday. I am not sure what the decision was to come down here, but he had come from Europe and maybe he would like this kind of course. It was a good decision. He broke better today than he has in his past two starts. Javier (Castellano) rode him beautifully and he kicked on. He showed a real turn of foot.”
Steve Asmussen (trainer, runner-up Snapper Sinclair): “He almost did it again. He ran hard. We have no control how other horses run with him. The winner ran a beautiful race and finished up to the wire. Julien said he handles (the course) well. I think that puts him at $780,000 in his three Kentucky Downs starts. We’re going to talk to Ron (track co-owner Ron Winchell) and see if we can get him to use his six days a year every six weeks. We’re proud of him. We’re always proud of him.”
Julien Leparoux (rider, runner-up Snapper Sinclair): “He made a nice run at the end. That was a good race.”
Clement wins The Mint Juvenile Fillies for third time
In the ninth running of the $462,400 The Mint Juvenile Fillies, Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ Plum Ali took command at midstretch and drew off for a 2 3/4-length victory over Flown to give trainer Christophe Clement his third victory in the race.
A Kentucky-bred daughter of First Samurai out of the Stroll mare Skipping, Plum Ali covered the mile in 1:35.74 under Tyler Gaffalione, who posted his third victory of the afternoon.
The victory was worth $291,400 and increased Plum Ali’s earnings to $331,000 with a perfect two-for-two mark.
Plum Ali rewarded her backers with mutuels of $4.40, $3 and $2.80. Flown, ridden by John Velazquez, returned $7 and $5.80 and finished a neck in front of Oliviaofthedesert who paid $6.20 to show under Brian Hernandez Jr.
It was another neck back to Cecile’s Chapter in fourth with Beautiful Star, Dream Quist, Yogurt, Sunshine City, Stephanies Jewel, Long Monday and Maci’s Jamming following in order.
Roger Horgan assistant to Christophe Clement (winning trainer Plum Ali): “She has been special since Day One. We never cranked on her before her first start because she was going to run long. This was actually an audible. She was going to run in the With Anticipation at Saratoga but it got rained off the turf. So we came here for five times the money.”
Tyler Gaffalione (winning jockey, Plum Ali): “Christophe gave me a call this morning and said he put me on one of his best ones. She was supposed to run at Saratoga, but with all the rain, he figured this was an easier spot for her. Great job by them. She came over ready to run today. Boy, what an incredible filly.”
John Velazquez (runner-up jockey on Flown): “She ran really well, put in a really good run. Obviously the best horse beat her today.”
Barrister Tom pays $90 to win in Look For The Star Juvenile
Bantry Farms’ Barrister Tom scored a 44-1 upset in the $498,000 Look For The Star Juvenile for 2-year-olds by posting a half-length victory over Pivotal Mission to give jockey Tyler Baze his first victory at Kentucky Downs.
Getting a ground-saving trip from Baze, Barrister Tom sat just off a speed duel by Gypsy King and Dreamer’s Disease. In the stretch, Barrister Tom stayed on the inside and held off Pivotal Mission, completing the mile in 1:35.71.
Barrister Tom is a Kentucky-bred son of Artie Schiller out of the Parading mare Taylor Lane and is now a perfect two-for-two on the turf. The victory was worth $300,700 and increased his earnings to $316,900.
Barrister Tom returned $90, $28.20 and $11. Pivotal Mission, ridden by John Velazquez, returned $5 and $3.60 and finished a neck in front of Indy Tourist who paid $3.80 to show under Florent Geroux.
It was another neck back to Shawdyshawdyshawdy who was followed in order by Gypsy King, Really Slow, Citadel and Dreamer’s Disease. Snake Doctor suffered catastrophic injuries to his right front leg on the turn and had to be euthanized. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. was cleared by medical personnel to ride the next race.
Michael Ann Ewing (winning owner-trainer Barrister Tom) — “Tyler (Baze) rode him perfectly. Saved ground laying third. I am thrilled. If you adjust his last race for pace his figure came back with a good number. He has trained awesomely since that race (Aug. 7) and I was hopeful. Maybe (he will go to the Bourbon (G2) on Oct. 4 at Keeneland) but hopefully we can go to the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Turf).”
Tyler Baze (winning jockey Barrister Tom): “I had a beautiful trip. Michael pretty much just left it up to me. She said, ‘You do what you think is right.’ I had a perfect trip, got to the rail. What a nice little horse. He’s got a lot of heart. It was nice for them to let me ride the horse. I don’t know what he paid. I know he was about 50-1. I’m just excited. It’s my first win at Kentucky Downs, and I look forward to some more next week.”
Graham Motion (runner-up trainer Pivotal Mission) — “He ran very well. It’s just a little frustrating but it was a good effort.”
Dalika puts it all together in One Dreamer Stakes
In the sixth running of the $182,610 One Dreamer for fillies and mares, Bal Mar Equine’s Dalika (GER) rated just off the pace before surging to the front in midstretch and held off a bid from Madita (GER) to post a one-length victory.
Trained by Al Stall Jr. and ridden by Miguel Mena, Dalika covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:37.45
Dalika is a 4-year-old daughter of Pastorius (GER) out of the Hurricane Run (IRE) mare Drawn To Run (IRE). She picked up $86,490 for the victory to boost her earnings to $272,495 with a record of 14-4-4-0.
Dalika returned $14.40, $6.40 and $5.20. Madita, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., returned $19.20 and $12 and finished a neck in front of Our Bay B Ruth, who paid $6.20 to show under Tyler Gaffalione.
It was another three-quarters of a length back to Xanthique, who was followed in order by Varenka, Passing Out, Curlin’s Journey, Speedy Solution, Queen Medb (IRE), Harmless, Strike My Fancy and Rushingirl.
Winning trainer Al Stall Jr. (Dalika) — “This race had conditions and the competition helped. She always has been talented; she’s Grade 2 placed, but she has been aggressive (in the past) and we like to get her to settle like she did today. (Owner) Paul (Varga) and I will look at the First Lady (G1 at Keeneland on Oct. 3).”
Winning jockey Miguel Mena (Dalika) – “Nice filly for Al. He was hitting the board with her in Saratoga with Joel Rosario. She’s always been right there. She was set up for this win. She’s been training very well coming into the race. She was on it today. She broke very good, she was loving her position, loving the course, too. She was the best horse today.”
Brian Hernandez Jr. (second on Madita) — “She ran good. She settled in great. Turning for home I thought I was on the winner. But the winner just dug in and kicked on.”
The fifth race was declared a no contest after an apparent gate malfunction resulted in the stall doors opening while #6 Mechanicville and #12 Catman remained behind the gate. Track management said the owners of each horse involved in the race would receive $5,000 and each jockey $500 out of the purse account. The racing office will work on an opportunity for the horses to run back at the meet if their connections choose.
Frank Smothers, the oldest racing official in Kentucky and quite possibly in the country, turned 94 years old Monday. Smothers, who lives in Bowling Green, is a former jockey who served in the Army during World War II and the Korean War.