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Jockey Robby Albarado after winning his 5th race of the day, the Regret Stakes aboard Keertana.
Reunion Day is the biggest day of racing at Churchill Downs outside of Kentucky Derby weekend. Many past Kentucky Derby winning jockeys and trainers were at the track to sign autographs, including the connections of this year's winners Mine That Bird. Five graded stakes races were conducted on Saturday afternoon, under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80's. Unfortunately, all of the races experienced purse reductions from last year's editions due to the economic struggles of racing in Kentucky. Jockey Robby Albarado won five races on the card, including the last two stakes races, the Stephen Foster Handicap aboard Macho Again and the Regret aboard Keertana.
The first stakes race on the card was the $150,000 Jefferson Cup Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. El Crespo, third in the Arlington Classic last out, was the 9-5 favorite in the field of 7 over 2-1 second choice Advice, 13th in the Kentucky Derby after winning the Lexington, and 7-2 third choice Florentino, third in the Transylvania at Keeneland in his last start. Florentino was sent to the lead soon after the start by regular rider Alan Garcia, and he set slow early fractions of 25.00, 50.26, and 1:15.31 over the good turf, while a length in front of El Crespo and 4-1 No Inflation stalking him second and third. Entering the stretch, Florentino stubbornly held onto the lead through a mile in 1:39.42. El Crespo attempted to pass in the stretch but Florentino easily held him off by 3/4 length, completing the trip in 1:51.59. It was just a neck back to No Inflation third.
Full results chart from DRF
Florentino in the winner's circle and post parade. Neal McLaughlin, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "That was great. (The Hill Prince at Belmont Park was) rained off the turf up there and we had to look for another spot. Here was this race. The 1 1/8 miles we were worried about and maybe soft turf we were worried about but he goes and throws in a race like that. That was super. What a ride. It was beautiful."
Winning jockey Alan Garcia said, "He broke a little slow and my horse took an easy lead. We went into the first turn and no other horse wanted to come so we were just all alone. We made the turn for home 2 furlongs out and I just had more horse than any other rider."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite El Crespo in the post parade. His trainer Rusty Arnold said, "I was pretty happy with where I was. I know it was a little slower than I was looking for, but we had a clean run at him and I thought we were going to get to him, but he didn't. But he kept running on, and the races get a little bit longer as the year goes, so I'm pretty happy with his run." Jockey Julien Leparoux added, "He just outkicked us a little bit. My horse just kept grinding and grinding, he kept on going. He ran good."
Right: Third place finisher No Inflation returns after the race. The 4-1 fourth choice stalked the pace down on the hedge under Robby Albarado, came out for running room at the 3/16 pole, but failed to improve his position late. The Thomas Proctor trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 3 seconds, and 1 third in 8 starts, earning $103,003 for owner-breeder Glen Hill Farm.
The $100,000 Northern Dancer Stakes (G3) featured a field of 6 three-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Warrior's Reward, an allowance winner last out after finishing 8th in the Tampa Bay Derby, was the 4-5 favorite over 2-1 Successful Dan, undefeated in 2 lifetime starts and making his stakes debut, and 9-2 third choice Omniscient, 9th in the Lexington last out. Successful Dan went to the lead entering the clubhouse turn and he set an easy pace of 24.54, 48.63, and 1:13.01 while being stalked by Warrior's Reward less than a length behind. Entering the stretch, Warrior's Reward moved up to challenge and briefly took over the lead with a furlong remaining, but Successful Dan came back again to get the hard-fought win by a head in 1:43.30. It was a long 3 1/4 lengths back to Omniscient third.
Full results chart from DRF
Successful Dan returning after the race and in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Charles LoPresti said, "It's really exciting. He's a really nice horse, but we just didn't know whether he'd get the two turns, but he sure fought hard today. We tried to get an allowance race for him here to try him around two turns and see what happened, but we couldn't get it to go. So we put him in here and it worked out pretty good. I think we've got a good horse and we'll see how he comes out of it and go from there. He really, really showed some heart here. I thought there for a minute that he was beat, because that's a very, very good horse that we ran against."
Winning jockey Julien Leparoux said, "I thought that I had a lot of horse left when (Calvin Borel aboard Warrior's Reward) came to head me. I wasn't really expecting to see him that early in the race so I knew I had to move early so he wouldn't get the jump on us. If he would have moved before me, he would have probably won the race. This is a very good horse, he hasn't made any mistakes yet. I really thought Calvin was going to come by, but my horse just kept going and kept digging, so he fought and kept a head in front of him, so that was good."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Warrior's Reward in the paddock before the race. His trainer Ian Wilkes said, "Both horses ran hard. (Successful Dan) just outran us down the lane. Let's not undercut that, the winner ran hard. My horse ran good, but the other horse ran fantastic. I haven't lost any faith in him. I thought he ran a tremendous race. " Wilkes said he will go next in the Dwyer at Belmont Park. Jockey Calvin Borel added, "There was no pace and two horses were scratched. He just needed a little something to run at. He got a little tired right at the end, but he had never been that far under pressure. The race didn't just set up to his style."
Right: Third place finisher Omniscient in the post parade. The 9-2 third choice stalked the pace on the inside under Robby Albarado, angled out for the drive but could not improve his position, finishing third beaten 3 1/4 lengths. The Steve Asmussen trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 1 second, and 1 third in 5 starts, earning $70,781 for owner Stonestreet Stables LLC.
The distaff counterpart to the Stephen Foster is the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) for older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Louisville Distaff winner Miss Isella was sent off as the 8-5 favorite over 3-1 second choice and allowance winner Distinctive Dixie, and 4-1 third choice Santa Teresita, second in the Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne last out. Distinctive Dixie battled for the lead with Santa Teresita and to her outside through fractions of 24.24, 48.18, and 1:12.07 over the fast track. Entering the stretch, jockey Calvin Borel aboard Miss Isella, who had saved ground the whole way in fourth, came through on the rail and was bumped into the rail by Distinctive Dixie at the 3/16 pole. She recovered from the incident and powered away to win by 3/4 length over 7-1 Swift Temper in 1:49.59. It was another 4 1/2 lengths back to 11-1 Temple Street third.
Full results chart from DRF
Miss Isella in the winner's circle and returning after the race. Winning trainer Ian Wilkes said, "She's game. She loves it and loves that part of it. She's a game filly. You've just got to love her. She loves what she does. When Calvin goes through I think he's got enough horse. If he doesn't have enough horse, he's not going in there. If he only gets a little way in, he's in trouble. If has enough horse to get through there I'm all for it."
Winning jockey Calvin Borel said, "She came off the pace pretty good today. When I got up into the hole, Distinctive Dixie kind of came back down and shut me off. She brushed my filly a little bit, but they had a lot of room when I drove her in there. I put a little pressure on her, but it wasn't that bad. It looked bad because it threw her into the air and off stride, but that's the name of the game."
Left: Second place finisher Swift Temper returns after the race. Her jockey Garrett Gomez said, "It's very frustrating to ride a tactical smart race and and you gave up ground to be in a garden spot and then see (Borel) get through. To come off the fence and just let him through, and it's not just once or twice, it's like all the time. It takes a lot of heart out of your horse. It's difficult to swallow when it keeps happening over and over."
Right: Third place finisher Temple Street in the paddock before the race. The 11-1 shot raced at the back early under jockey Julien Leparoux, came out 7 wide for the drive and got up for third, beaten 5 1/4 lengths. The Brad Cox trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 4 seconds, and 4 thirds in 24 starts, earning $214,043 for owner K.C. Garrett Farm.
The last race on the card was the $150,000 Regret Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Prytania was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 8, exiting a fourth place finish in the American 1000 Guineas at Arlington last out. Hot Cha Cha, winner of the Bourbonette Oaks but 5th in the 1000 Guineas was the 3-1 second choice over two fillies at 6-1, allowance winners Keertana and The Best Day Ever. Jockey Alan Garcia sent 7-1 Oculuna to the front first time past the stands and she set fractions of 24.73, 50.48, and 1:15.00 over the good course while being stalked by 75-1 longest shot Super Poni and Keertana. Entering the stretch, Oculuna tired allowing Keertana to take over the lead at the 3/16 pole. The Best Day Over closed well on the outside but Keertana held her off by a neck to get the win in 1:52.02. It was another neck back to Hot Cha Cha third, while favorite Prytania raced at the back of the field early and showed nothing late, finishing 7th.
Full results chart from DRF
Keertana in the winner's circle and returning after the race. Winning trainer Tom Proctor said, "Good for (owner Barbara Hunter). She has been in the business forever. I have known her a long time. Last year we got a lucky and won a little stake at Arlington Park and this is even better for her. Robby gets along with Keertana and did a good job. I might go to (the Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs) with her. You never know."
Winning jockey Robby Albarado, winning his 5th race on the card said, "Days like today you want to show up and your horses show up as well. I had some great trips and was well mounted all day. I got to ride a really good 2-year-old filly (Hot Dixie Chick) for Steve Asmussen who broke a track record (5f in 58.48), Macho Again, and this filly (Keertana). This filly just keeps getting better with every race. She broke very sharp today and put herself in a forward position. As we went on the backside I felt a little pressure when a couple of the horses started making a move. She turned them away and then held off the late closing (The Best Day Ever)."
Left: Second place finisher The Best Day Ever in the paddock before the race. Her jockey Corey Lanerie said, "She ran awesome. It was just unfortunate that there was not enough pace for me, but she gave me everything she had. It was a great effort. All the way through the stretch there was no point that I thought I was going to lose, but the wire just kept coming closer and closer and I didn't get by her."
Right: Third place finisher Hot Cha Cha in the paddock before the race. Her jockey Jesus Castanon said, "I had to kind of take her up at the beginning. Around the 3/8 pole I was sitting there waiting and hoping for the best. A hole finally opened at the 1/8 pole and I went through, but it was a little too late. She ran a good race, but she could have used a little racing luck."
Stephen Foster Handicap results and photos
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