Applicator, Snapper Sinclair, Ultima D, My Impression Win Opening Day Stakes

RSS feed Print email to a friend
8:28 pm EDT

Tourist Mile Taken By Longshot Applicator

Four-year-old gelding Applicator won for the first time in more than 15 months while upsetting Wednesday’s featured $400,000 Tourist Mile by a length over Flatlined at Kentucky Downs.
Coming off a five-furlong turf sprint 13 days ago, Applicator showed speed early and was able to press the pace from the outside, racing four wide as Western Reserve set fractions of 26.02 and 50.62 seconds over a course labeled “good.” Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. took command approaching the quarter-pole and edged clear in the straight, finishing the mile in 1:44.79 on a day that had the rail out 30 feet and was producing very slow times.
“Before the race he felt very good,” winning trainer Mikhail Yanakov said of the best horse he’s trained in three years since taking out a license in the United States. “I told (Valdivia), ‘Let him have a good start and let him get comfortable in his stride,’ because it was his first time (on the course). ‘Don’t push him, don’t grab him, whatever he wants, and then let him go.’”

Applicator, by Henrythenavigator, showed he could be competitive against good turf horses earlier this year while finishing second in April’s Grade 3 Miami Mile at Gulfstream Park and third in July’s Grade 3 Stars and Stripes at Arlington Park. The close finish in the Stars and Stripes encouraged Yanakov to try the Grade 3 American St. Leger on the Arlington Million undercard, where an experiment with blinkers led to a disastrous 50-length defeat.

Valdivia said Applicator got confused by all the turns in the 1 11/16-mile St. Leger and tried to run off the track.
“I said just throw it out,” he said. “I always believed in this horse. It’s been a little unorthodox getting here. But as you can tell right now, I think it depends who handles the surface and who doesn’t. At the head of the lane, when a horse came up outside of him, he really jumped on the bit and was traveling well.
“I was laying second the whole way around there, outside of Western Reserve. We came to the home straight and he was finishing strong. At that moment I thought, ‘Man, I can win the whole thing.’ He was traveling good underneath me.”
Flatlined was last at the top of the stretch and closed well for second without ever threatening the winner.

“He ran very well,” jockey Joe Rocco Jr. said. “I tried to get him out to the better ground once we more or less straightened up. He put in a really nice run to close to finish second.
“When the turf is soft, speaking for most horses, speed holds a little more because everyone is more tired toward the end.”
Applicator was not nominated to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund and therefore ran for only half of the purse for which he could have been eligible as a Kentucky-bred. The $120,280 he did take home raised his lifetime earnings to $335,470 from a record of 30-3-2-2.
The winner paid $29.40 as the sixth choice in a field of eight. Flatlined checked in three-quarters of a length ahead of Shining Copper. The order of finish was completed by favored Irish Strait, pacesetter Western Reserve, Zambian, Bandar, and Hootenanny.
Applicator likely will run next at Keeneland’s fall meet, according to Yanakov, while Flatlined will likely aim for the Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs in November.
The race was run as the Tourist Mile for the first time this year in honor of 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile hero and three-time Breeders’ Cup starter Tourist, who won this event in 2015 when it was known as the More Than Ready Mile.

Snapper Sinclair Good in Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile

Jeff Bloom, president of the Bloom Racing Stable partnership, had never been to Kentucky Downs before, but his first trip was memorable. With the first horse he’s ever had with trainer Steve Asmussen, the stable’s favored Snapper Sinclair powered to the lead in the stretch under Ricardo Santana, Jr. on his way to a 1 3/4-length victory over the late-running John Tippmann.

“That is about as excited as I’ve ever been,” Bloom said “I’d never been here before to this track. The angle is kind of hard to figure out. I was saying, ‘I think I’m going to get a fine from the stewards for whipping myself too many times before he hit the wire.

“There was a scare. We were a little bit wide and I wasn’t sure. I thought we had enough horse. But when we hit the sixteenth pole, you could tell he was hitting a new gear and doing it with ease. He’s got that big stride. I felt pretty comfortable at that point. I’ll talk to Steve, but I’d have to think the Breeders’ Cup would look like a good spot to go.”

There’s not any debate with Asmussen about aiming for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar in early November. He indicated that he would not run Snapper Sinclair back in between.

“The horse is really talented,” Asmussen said. “I loved how he settled in the middle (of the race). Ricardo had to use a little of him to clear quite a bit of that going into the turn. But then he turned right off and settled and came home with great energy. He’s a beautiful mover. He’s not a real big horse, but he’s a beautiful mover and he loved the win.”

Snapper Sinclair pushed the pace set by Ellis Park Juvenile runner-up Northern Trail, taking command in the stretch as that horse faded.

“I had a really good trip,” Santana said. “He’s pretty quick from the gate. I saw all the pace inside, and the horse responded pretty good turning for home. This is a really nice 2-year-old. He ran the first time (at Belmont) and didn’t really like the dirt. He broke his maiden at Saratoga rolling. We had a lot of confidence in him.”

Snapper Sinclair, a $180,000 purchase at the OBS spring 2-year-old sale,
covered seven-eighths of a mile in 1:31.97, paying $6.20 to win as the favorite at just over 2-1 odds.

John Tippmann, a 15-1 shot, closed well under Robby Albarado to nose out Arawak, who in turn was a neck in front of Sky Promise in the field of 10.

The source of Snapper Sinclair’s name is a character in the Mickey Rooney movie Down the Stretch. After getting beat at Belmont on dirt, the son of City Zip won by four lengths on the grass at Saratoga with Santana picking up the mount.

“He’s very reactive, a very quick horse,” Asmussen said. “We had Ricardo come over and work him one day on the turf. It was like, ‘Wow, we know what we want to do now.’ He ran according to that in his maiden race at Saratoga. Felt very good about this race.”

Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies Goes to Maiden Ultima D

Why break your maiden for only $150,000 when you can earn your first victory running for $350,000?

That’s what happened with T. Mike Morgan’s Ultima D, who was coming off two seconds in maiden races at Woodbine and Saratoga. Kentucky Downs offers the richest maiden purses in North America at $130,000. Instead, trainer Wesley Ward opted for the $350,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies.

Ultima D and jockey Julio Garcia came through with a 1 1/2-length victory over favored Best Performance, who closed from well back but could not threaten the winner, who led through the long Kentucky Downs stretch.

“The thinking was that she’s a really nice filly and we always thought she was stakes caliber,” Ward said. “It’s not about the money, especially when you can get an accolade like that on your resume for breeding. And also we’re thinking down the road to the Breeders’ Cup. This filly looks like she’ll go farther. It’s a stiff (seven furlongs), this race, especially on the soft going like today. I think she’ll be a real candidate for the Breeders’ Cup here, come this fall.”

Ward said he’d look at Keeneland’s Jessamine Stakes as another prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar.

With the rail well out into the course and the turf rated “good,” times were about 10 seconds slower than typical at Kentucky Downs, with Ultima D covering the seven furlongs in 1:32.38. She paid $8.00 as the second choice, a sign of respect for Ward with 2-year-olds on grass and the fact that she was second in her last two starts, both against males on Woodbine’s synthetic surface and the Saratoga grass. The daughter of Scat Daddy was a well-beaten fifth in her debut on dirt at Keeneland, her only prior start against fillies.

“My boss said ride her however you want,” Garcia said of her maiden and stakes victory. “My filly broke good. I was going very easily. And she just kept going.”

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. told partners in West Point Thoroughbreds that Best Performance ran very well to be second.

“The winner just kind of got a jump on us,” Hernandez said. “She still ran really nice. She’s definitely a nice filly. She does everything perfectly. She sat there and waited and waited, and when we finally got our room, she spurted on through there really nicely. She’s definitely going to improve off this.

“On this course, I thought it was going to be difficult (to catch the leader). On the turn I got stuck behind a couple of horses. I had like four of them around me and none of them were going forward. I was just having to wait. Here, it seems if you’re not there at the eighth pole, you’re going to have a hard time making up ground.”

My Impression Strides Away in One Dreamer Stakes
In the first stakes race of the meet, New York invader My Impression angled far out into the middle of the track but got up with ease in the final strides to win the $150,000 One Dreamer by 1 1/2 lengths. The odds-on favorite found today’s restricted conditions – for fillies and mares that had not won a stake in 2017 – more to her liking after battling with the likes of superstar mare Lady Eli last time out in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga.
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione, riding at Kentucky Downs for the first time, negotiated a perfect trip over a “good” turf course that left much of the field laboring in the final stages of the 1 mile and 70-yard contest. Breaking from post 3, My Impression raced in the second flight early on, behind longshot leaders Bonnie Arch and Charlotte Marie, who set official fractions of 25.80 and 48.16, despite give in the ground and the temporary rail being set at 30 feet.
Gaffalione and My Impression sat comfortably as the field bunched up approaching the half-mile marker. Into the stretch, second choice Borreale and jockey Robby Albarado opened a clear lead just as My Impression and Rattataptap were finding their best strides. Gaffalione, acting like a jockey who knew he was on the best horse, shifted out several paths to find clear running room down the center of the course. When My Impression straightened out near the sixteenth pole she accelerated past the leader to win with ease in a hand-timed 1:49.25.

“I just started to let her run inside the quarter pole, and when I got her outside, she just rebroke, basically,” Gaffalione said.
Rattataptap closed from last under Shaun Bridgmohan to get second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Borreale. The order of finish was completed by Mo Knows, Bonnie Arch, Flying Tipat, Bootsy’s Girl, and Charlotte Marie.
My Impression, by Sky Messa, is a Stuart Janney III homebred and represented the first lifetime winner at Kentucky Downs for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. The 4-year-old filly was a graded stakes winner at 3 and ran competitively earlier this year against top turf females up and down the East Coast.
“Shug does a great job and has for many years,” Gaffalione said. “Honestly, any time you ride for him, you’ve got a shot. My filly, she was going so good. He had her ready today. I just had to guide her and hold on.”
The $90,210 winner’s share of the purse boosted My Impression’s career earnings to $429,525 from a record of 15-6-2-1. A $2 win bet returned $3.80.

Handle Up Despite Weekday Opening

This opening day of the 2017 Kentucky Downs meet was held on a Wednesday after heavy rains forced postponement last Saturday. Handle for the day was very good, especially for a mid-week card, totaling $4,633,176.That's up one percent from last year's opening day on Saturday of Labor Day weekend.  Last year's closing day handle, which was on a Thursday, was $3,660.588.63, and average daily handle last year was $4,508.152. On-track handle was down significantly to $143,818.

Kentucky Downs release

Photos by Reed Palmer Photography