(Travel Column / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the Churchill Downs Media Team:

Travel Column overcame a slow break and being squeezed at the start to run down Clairiere in the final yards and win Saturday’s 77th running of the $200,000 Golden Rod (Grade II) at Churchill Downs by one length. Stablemate Coach was another 2 ½ lengths back in third and 3-5 favorite Simply Ravishing was another half-length back in fourth.

Travel Column, who ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:43.98 as the 9-2 second betting choice in the field of nine, collected the $119,040 first prize and 10 points as part of the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series, which offers points on a scale of 10-4-2-1 to the Top 4 finishers as a “Prep Season” race.

The final time was only the seventh sub-1:44 clocking in the race’s history, which has been contested at the distance since 1980. Also, it was :00.54 faster than Keepmeinmind’swin in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII).

Florent Geroux rode the winner for trainer Brad Cox and owner Larry Best’s OXO Equine LLC.

Farsighted broke fastest of all and rattled off early quarter-mile splits of :23.77 and :48.21 with Travel Column last down the backstretch after she was crowed between horses at the start from post position 4. As Simply Ravishing took the lead around the turn, Travel Column weaved her way into contention only to be bottled up down on the inside behind the leading pack, which included Simply Ravishing, a fading Farsighted on the rail, a three-wide Coach and a four-wide Clairiere.

Inside the final three-sixteenths of a mile, Geroux shifted Travel Column to the far outside around the threesome. Clairiere had put away the eventual third and fourth place finishers with a furlong to go but a determined Travel Column was finally in the clear and displayed a powerful late kick to get up for the seemingly improbable win.

“We broke a step slow and I tried to get her to relax as much as I could while saving as much ground as possible,” Geroux said. “I got sort of a pocket trip around the far turn and when Simply Ravishing was flattening out, I just decided to go around everyone. She had a ton of energy left and was able to get up to win.”

Prior to the Golden Rod, Travel Column missed the break in the Grade I Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 2 and finished third behind Simply Ravishing and Crazy Beautiful.

“(Travel Column) overcame a lot of adversity today,” Cox said. “This was the game plan all along to run in this race and give her the time she needs after the Alcibiades. She was very impressive breaking that slow and being stopped several times. Mentally that showed her maturity but I still think she is learning. I thought Coach ran a really good race to get third as well.”

Behind fourth-place finisher Simply Ravishing, who entered the Golden Rod after a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) 22 days ago, it was Princess TheoremAlexandriaLady LillyLady Traveler and Farsighted. No Mo’ Spendingwas scratched.

“No real excuses,” said Simply Ravishing’s jockey Robby Albarado.

Travel Column improved her record to 3-2-0-0—$209,184 and paid $11.80, $6.20 and $4. Clairiere, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., paid $5.60 and $3.40. Coach, under Joe Talamo, returned $5.40 to show.

“She ran a really good race and was second best,” Santana Jr. said of Clairiere.

Travel Column, a daughter of Frosted out of the Victory Gallop mare Swingit, was bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Bayne Welker Jr. and Denali Stud.

GOLDEN ROD QUOTES

Florent Geroux, jockey of TRAVEL COLUMN (winner): “We broke a step slow and I tried to get her to relax as much as I could while saving as much ground as possible. I got sort of a pocket trip around the far turn and when Simply Ravishing was flattening out, I just decided to go around everyone. She had a ton of energy left and was able to get up to win.”

Brad Cox, trainer of TRAVEL COLUMN (winner) and COACH (third): “(Travel Column) overcame a lot of adversity today. This was the game plan all along to run in this race and give her the time she needs after the Alcibiades (GI). She was very impressive breaking that slow and being stopped several times. Mentally that showed her maturity but I still think she is learning. I thought Coach ran a really good race to get third as well.”

Ricardo Santana Jr., jockey of CLAIRIERE (runner-up): “She ran a really good race and was second best.”

Robby Albaradojockey of SIMPLY RAVISHING (fourth): “No real excuses.”