Instilled Regard Impressive in Winning LeComte Stakes; Seven Trumpets Nearly Pulls Off Win in Jerome at Aqueduct

(Photo of Firenze Fire wins Jerome on Saturday / Courtesy of NYRA)

Instilled Regard, who had a traffic jam in his last race in the Los Alamitos Futurity and got sandwiched by a pair of Bob Baffert 3-year-olds led by the impressive McKenzie, steered clear and free on Saturday, running off to an impressive victory in the jammed-packed LeComte Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Saturday.

Ridden by the Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, the California shipper left little doubt, as he galloped off and away from the highly touted trio of trainer Steve Asmussen, including the previously undefeated Principe Guilherme, the longshot Snapper Sinclair, and the maiden-winner Zing Zang.

For this efforts, Instilled Regard picked up 10 points towards this year’s Kentucky Derby. The rest of the top four finishers got 4-2-1 respectively.

“I really liked the way the horse behaved himself and conducted himself before the race,” said Castellano, when interviewed by the Fair Grounds TV host, Joe Kristufek. “He was so kind. He is just a very professional horse.”

Jerry Hollendorfer, making a rare appearance at the Fair Grounds, was happy with his 3-year-old colt, as well. “I’m very grateful to be here,” he said immediately after the winner’s circle ceremony. “The owner thought this would be a great place to come and race; he wanted to come to the Fair Grounds, and it turned out to be a good idea.

“It was a good race.”

When asked if the group may come back to New Orleans for the upcoming Risen Star, and, ultimately, the Louisiana Derby, Hollendorfer was as coy as ever.

“We’ll see,” he said, on two occasions.

There was no waiting to see how good he was this Saturday. He was much the best in what many thought may have been the best LeComte Stakes in recent memory.

Principe Guilherme, who had run off to two easy victories in his first two career starts, had a tougher time fighting traffic this time around and never made the lead like he is used to, but he never quit fighting and grabbed second late over his stablemate.

He didn’t shame himself, at all, and should return to some of the other top 3-year-old stakes at the Fair Grounds this meet.

Romans Happy with Seven Trumpets in Jerome:

Just talked to trainer Dale Romans, via text. Seven Trumpets, who nearly pulled off the upset in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct today before stubbornly giving in to Firenze Fire in the final jump.

As the prohibitive 2-5 favorite and under the stern and vigorous ride of Manny Franco, Firenze Fire narrowly got up in the final stride over the muddy track.

Seven Trumpets set the fractions over the very tiring racetrack — which has not been run over much due to heavy snow and ice showers for the past month — held on to be well clear of third place finisher Coltsandmississippi.

(Firenze Fire wins Jerome on Saturday / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

Firenze Fire earned 10 points for the Kentucky Derby, while Seven Trumpets received 4 points for running second. Coltsandmississippi got 2 points and Regalian got 1.

According to the Louisville-native trainer, Seven Trumpets came out of the race: “All good.”

 

They (Gun Runner and workmate Gettysburg) worked head-and-head last week, and this week we chose to back him off Gettysburg early and just let him settle. I thought he handled it really nicely and galloped out really good. It wasn’t as intense of a work as last week, and I feel good about it…. He was probably two or three (lengths) off of Gettysburg away from the pole, engaged him probably by the three-eighths pole and Gettysburg carried him to almost the sixteenth pole.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, following Gun Runner’s work on Sunday, Jan. 7 in advance of the Pegasus World Cup
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean