(Strong Quality wins the Knicks Go Stakes on Saturday / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

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

STRONG QUALITY WINS KNICKS GO OVERNIGHT STAKES

Gary Barber and Kinsman Stable’s Strong Quality took the lead shortly after the start and scored a half-length victory over Kupuna in the third running of the $200,000 Knicks Go Overnight Stakes presented by L&N Federal Credit Union for 4-year-olds and up, the first of nine stakes Saturday on Kentucky Derby Day.

Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Florent Geroux, Strong Quality completed the mile on a muddy main track in 1:35.45. It is Geroux’s second consecutive victory in this race having won withZozos last year.

Strong Quality led the field of 10 through fractions of :22.36 and :44.14 with Five Star General in closest pursuit. Strong Quality maintained a daylight advantage into the stretch and had enough left in the tank to hold off Kupuna.

Strong Quality rewarded his backers with payoffs of $13.02, $6.06 and $4.62. Kupuna, ridden byMitchell Murrill, returned $6.90 and $4.72 and finished 4 ¾ lengths in front of Five Star General, who paid $7.34 to show under Tyler Gaffalione.

It was another three-quarters of a length back to Denington with favored Best Actor, Oscar Eclipse, Collaborate, U.S. Army, Not Normal and Strava following in order.

KNICKS GO QUOTES

 

Florent Geroux (jockey, Strong Quality, winner) – “Today was not sloppy but there was a little bit of moisture. He can run on anything, he’s a good turf horse, too. When he’s in the right spot, he wins.”

Mark Casse (trainer, Strong Quality, winner) – “(Co-owner Gary Barber) was really excited about this spot. Strong Quality does like this track (won last November by 9 ¼ lengths). He especially likes it when there’s some moisture in it.”

Mitchell Murrill (jockey, Kupuna, second) – “He put me right in the race where I needed to be. He was nice and relaxed the entire race and I was able to turn him loose turning for him. He fought hard through the whole race. (Strong Quality) was just too much for him late.”

Tyler Gaffalione (jockey, Five Star General, third) – “Everything went to plan for the trip. He broke well and got into a good position. The top 2 just kind of got away from us. He maintained a great effort throughout the lane.”