(Gunite wins the Harrods Creek Stakes at Churchill Downs on Saturday night / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Churhcill Downs Media Team:
Grade I winner Gunite, the odds-on 3-5 favorite, ran down front-running stakes-winner Conagher with a furlong to run and scored a three-length victory in Saturday night’s second running of the $274,500 Harrods Creek for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
Winner of the Grade I Hopeful at 2, the Harrods Creek was Gunite’s third sprint stakes win of the year, adding to July triumphs in the $160,000 Maxfield at Churchill Downs and $200,000 Amsterdam (GII) at Saratoga. Prior to the Harrods Creek, Gunite finished second to top 3-year-old sprinter Jack Christopher in the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (GI) at Saratoga.
Gunite clocked seven furlongs over a fast track in 1:21.95 under Tyler Gaffalione, who rode the winner for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and owner/breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (Ron Winchell).
The winner’s share of $166,710 increased Gunite’s earnings to $814,809 with a record of 5-4-1 in 11 starts.
“He’s run extremely well his last three races,” Asmussen said. “He’s had a very good season so far for us. He’s a nice horse to have for the Winchells. Being a son of Gun Runner makes it even more special.”
Conagher, who broke from post No. 4, dictated the terms in the field of seven through comfortable fractions of :22.86 and :45.46 but Gunite, who had the outside post, never let the leader get away as he sat a no more than 1 ½ lengths off his right hip down the backstretch. Into the turn, Gunite engaged Conagher and the two raced shoulder to shoulder leaving the turn and into the stretch before Gunite comfortably passed the leader at the final furlong marker and drew clear late despite racing on the wrong the lead leg.
“He’s one of my favorite horses to ride,” Gaffalione said. “His last few races he’s really proved his talent. He has a lot of grit late in his races and shows that each time he runs.”
Gunite returned $3.26, $2.38 and $2.10. Conagher, under Joe Rocco Jr., paid $2.64 and $2.22 as the 9-5 second betting choice. It was another 2 ¾ lengths back to Strava in third, who returned $2.70 to show at odds of 9-1.
Friar Laurence, Hippodrome, Double Thunder and Editorial Comment (ARG) completed the running order.
Gunite was bred in Kentucky is out of the Cowboy Cal mare Simple Surprise.
The race honors the neighborhood of Louisville centered near Harrods Creek at the intersection of River Road and Wolf Pen Branch Road. It is roughly bordered by the Ohio River to the west and US 42 to the east. Formerly an unincorporated community, it was designated a neighborhood of Louisville when the city merged with Jefferson County in 2003.
HARRODS CREEK QUOTES
Tyler Gaffalione, (jockey, Gunite, winner) – “He’s one of my favorite horses to ride. His last few races he’s really proved his talent. He has a lot of grit late in his races and shows that each time he runs.”
Steve Asmussen, (trainer, Gunite, winner) – “He’s run extremely well his last three races. He’s had a very good season so far for us. He’s a nice horse to have for the Winchells. Being a son of Gun Runner makes it even more special.”
Joe Rocco Jr., (jockey, Conagher, runner-up) – “The track may not have been playing to his best style. Given that, I thought he ran very well. I tried to keep (Gunite) wide and even with both of us going that wide (Conagher) showed a lot of fight in deep stretch. A couple of times you could see his ears pointing up and I would shake the reins at him and he’d dig back in each time. I think it was one of his better races and didn’t win.”