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Saratoga Opening Day
Miguel Mena gives Hull a pat after winning the Derby Trial
The opening day feature at Churchill Downs every year is the $100,000 Derby Trial Stakes (G3). Contested as a 7 1/2 furlong sprint just a week before the Run for the Roses, it is no longer a serious prep for the Kentucky Derby, although some have used it to earn last-minute graded stakes earnings in order to make the field. A field of 8 three-year-olds went to post on Saturday afternoon, with Silver City sent off as the 9-5 favorite, exiting a distant fifth in the Rebel at Oaklawn after finishing second in the Southwest. In to challenge him included 5-2 second choice Santana Six, winner of two straight and making his stakes debut, and 7-2 third choice Hull, undefeated in two lifetime starts, a maiden at the Fair Grounds and an allowance at Turfway.
Hull starts to draw away from Kensei in the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Hull Mena 8.80 5.40 4.40 8 Kensei Albarado 13.80 7.40 4 Checklist Bridgmohan 9.00 Winning Time: 1:30.21 $2 Exacta 7-8 84.00 $2 Trifecta 7-8-4 1,223.40 $2 Superfecta 7-8-4-6 6,443.60
Right: Hull in the paddock before the race. Winning trainer Dale Romans said, "I loved what I saw out there today. He relaxed off the pace, and when the rider asked him to run, he really exploded. He's as good as anybody around right now. He's opened up in all three of his races. We entered in the Lexington but we had this race as our backup, and when he drew post 12, we didn't hesitate to scratch him and point for this. We'll take a look and see what happens in the Derby, who goes on from there and who doesn't. The Preakness is a possibility for him right now."
Left: Hull returns after the race. Winning jockey Miguel Mena said, "It went great. There were really fast fractions, but he broke good and was in the bridle happy. I didn't take to take him back and break his momentum. It's just unbelievable. Not any horse can (handle the fast fractions), only special horses. I breeze him in the morning and think he can run any distance."
Right: Second place finisher Kensei in the post parade. His jockey Robby Albarado said, "I had a good trip. I was right in there behind the horse who was the eventual winner. We both kicked at the same time. He kicked away from me. The winner is a nice horse, but I like my horse, too."
Left: Third place finisher Checklist in the paddock before the race. The 17-1 longest shot set the early pace between horses under new jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, faded into the stretch but had enough left to hold third beaten 5 3/4 lengths. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 1 second, and 0 thirds in 4 starts, earning $54,434 for owner Starlight Partners.
Right: Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Silver City in the post parade. His jockey Julien Leparoux said, "He came away good and he ran hard early. He just got tired. That's all."
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