(Cugino wins the Audubon Stakes at Churchill Downs / All Photos by Coady Media)

From the Churchill Downs Media Team / Darren Rogers & Kevin Kerstein:

CUGINO WIRES $275,000 AUDUBON

Cugino, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds LLC and Jimmy Kahig LLC, collected his first stakes victory with a gate-to-wire job over eight rival 3-year-olds in Saturday’s fifth running of the $275,000 Audubon Stakes (Listed) at Churchill Downs.

          Cugino, ridden by Flavien Prat and trained by Shug McGaughey, rattled off fractions of :23.83, :48.17 and 1:13.16 en route to easily beating Lagynos by 4 ¼ lengths in 1:50.22 for the 1 1/8 miles over “firm” turf.

“He broke very well and I was able to get to the front pretty easily,” Prat said. “He traveled very well and had a lot left down the lane.”

          The $163,800 first prize jumped Cugino’s earnings to $364,100 from a record of 2-3-0 in six starts.

          In April, Cugino finished a neck back of Neat in the $400,000 Transylvania (GIII) at Keeneland. In his start prior to the Audubon, Cugino was fourth behind Trikari, Formidable Man and Lagynos in the $600,000 American Turf presented by Twin Spires (GII) on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

“I think the blinkers have helped him keep focus and has really made him step up his game,” said Reeve McGaughey, assistant to his Hall of Fame father. “We put them on him last time and he ran a good race but I think the inside post today helped him a little more.”

          Cugino paid $7.34, $4.14 and $2.96 as the 5-2 second betting choice. Lagynos, with Cristian Torres up at odds of 6-1, returned $6.56 and $3.62. Camaro Z was another head back in third under Jopse Ortiz at 25-1 and paid $6.78 to show.

          Rock ‘n a Halo, 9-5 favorite Cameo Performance, Formidable Man, Thomas Aquinas, Nomos and Can Group rounded out the placings. Twirling Point was scratched.

Cugino, a son of Twirling Candy out of the Kitten’s Joy mare Adorable Miss, was bred in Kentucky byGage Hill Stables LLC and W. S. Farish.

The Audubon is named after a Louisville neighborhood located nearby Churchill Downs.