Applicator, a 13-1 longshot owned by Olympia Star Stables and trained by Mikhail Yanakov, swept to an easy lead at the halfway mark and then held on to upset the tote board and a field of 8 in the $400,000, 1-mile Tourist Stakes on the opening day card of Kentucky Downs annual turf festival on Wednesday.
Opening Day was moved to Wednesday from the original date of last Saturday due to monsoon like rains that hit the grounds in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
The Tourist — named after the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile champ of 2016, who now stands as a stallion at WinStar Farm in Versailles, KY. — was one of four major stakes races held at the unusual, European-styled turf course in West Kentucky.
In the other three, My Impression won the $150,000 One Dreamer Stakes, contested over 1 mile and 70 yards; Ultima D won the 7-furlong, $350,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies, and Snapper Sinclair remained undefeated on the grass in winning the 7-furlong, $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile.
In an unusual and innovative betting twist, featuring a wager on jockeys riding in the last seven races, jockey Tayler Gaffalione edged out “the field” and all others to reward his backers at odds of 7-to-1.
But the biggest surprise of the day was the 4-year-old gelding Applicator, a son of Henrythenavigator and the Strodes Creek mare River Flower. Coming into the 1 mile stakes on Wednesday, the gelding had not won a race since he captured the unlisted Gleaming Stakes at Gulfstream Park on May 28, 2016. That was nearly 16 months ago.
In fact, Applicator had only hit the board — with one second and one third — in his last 13 performances in the afternoon. He came into the Tourist with a belated rally to only get up to 4th position in a field of 7 in an Optional-Claimer at Arlington Park going 5-furlongs.
It didn’t figure to be a prime prep for a Stakes performance. But it was, no doubt. After stalking the lead of Western Reserve and Hootenanny in the early stages, jockey Jose Valdivia guided his mount to their outside and looped to an easy lead, with a half-mile time in a tardy :50.62. With those tawdry fractions, Applicator had plenty left in the tank to hold off the late and mild rallies of runner-up Flatlined, who came into this race off an impressive victory in the Cliff Guilliams Stakes at Ellis Park in his last; Shining Copper and the 2-1 favorite Irish Strait, who never mustered much of an inside rally.
The most impressive winner of the day, though, could arguably be the easy and impressive victory of the Scat Daddy, 2-year-old filly Ultima D, trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by Julio Garcia, in the Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies.
This filly, owned by the legal eagle John Morgan and his For the People Stable, roared to the front soon after the gates popped for the 7-furlong tilt and gassed through fraction times of :25.81, :51.11 and 1:17.88 en route to a never-threatened 11/2-length victory over the favored Best Performance.
After the race, Greg Stumbo — one of the partners in the law firm and in the Thoroughbred partnership and the former Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives — confirmed that the filly now will be pointed for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar on the first Saturday in November.
Snapper Sinclair, who was saddled by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, stalked the early lead in the Juvenile and made the lead entering the stretch and pulled away to a 13/4-length victory over longshot John Tippmann and Arawalk. Snapper Sinclair made his turf debut at Saratoga on Aug. 14, and broke his maiden that day with an impressive 4-length victory. He was equally as impressive at Kentucky Downs on Wednesday, with a never-in-doubt performance.
Kentucky Downs will be back in action on Thursday for the second of 5 live cards.
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