Churchill Downs stakes recap (Coady Photography photo of Just Might and Rafael Bejarano’s victory in the new $275,000 Louisville Thoroughbred Society Stakes)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021) – Griffon Farms and Michelle Lovell’s 5-year-old homebred gelding Just Might led every step of the way in Saturday night’s inaugural $275,000 Louisville Thoroughbred Society at Churchill Downs to collect his fourth straight stakes win with a three-quarter-length triumph over Endorsed. Even-money favorite Bango was another 1 ¼ lengths back in third.
Just Might, trained by Lovell and ridden by Rafael Bejarano, ran six furlongs in 1:08.71 after dictating the pace in the field of six 3-year-olds and up through fractions of :21.81, :44.75 and :56.53.
“He got into stride quickly and was on the early pace,” Bejarano said. “He traveled well and even though we were going fast he was doing it comfortably. In deep stretch there were other horses coming to us but he was very game. He’s been in great form this year.”
Just Might won for the eighth time in 29 starts and the $168,105 payday jumped the Kentucky-bred’s career earnings to $688,414.
Just Might, a son of Justin Phillip, spent the summer at Colonial Downs in Virginia where he was victorious in the $100,000 Da Hoss Stakes on turf and $100,000 Chesapeake Stakes on dirt. His stakes-win streak began at Churchill Downs came in June when he defeated six rivals in the $110,000 Mighty Beau at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
“He’s in unbelievable form this year,” Lovell said. “Turf or dirt, it doesn’t really matter what the surface is. He runs so hard every time. It was great being able to celebrate tonight with ‘Pappy’ (Griffon). That made this win much more special. Pappy is such a lovely human. He’s been like family to me and has been with me for most of my career. This horse is very special to us.”
Said Griffon: “He’s by far the best horse I’ve ever owned and bred. I was hoping he would run in 1:09 tonight to try and back up the (1:07.93) last out. He went in 1:08 and change (1:08.71). He’s run well on every surface but I think he loves the dirt.”
Just Might paid $8, $4.40 and $2.60 as the 3-1 second betting choice. Endorsed, ridden by Julien Leparoux at odds of 8-1, returned $7.80 and $3.60. Bango, with Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle, paid $2.40 to show.
It was another six lengths back to Mighty Mischief in fourth, who was followed by Dennis’ Moment and Derby Date.
The race is named for the Louisville Thoroughbred Society, which opened for regular hours of operation in March 2021. The Louisville Thoroughbred Society is Louisville’s only on-site wagering by Churchill Downs in the heart of Louisville’s metropolitan scene. The premier club for Thoroughbred enthusiasts is open for private membership applications, and reservations for special events are being accepted. For more information, visit www.thelouisvillethoroughbredsociety.com.