Kentucky Downs Preview Saturday’s stakes recaps by Kevin Kerstein (Coady photo of Wadsworth wining the Kentucky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby under Florent Geroux)
HENDERSON, Ky. (Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023) – Fans at Ellis Park were treated to a thriller in the $200,000 Ky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby when favored Wadsworth overcame a troubled trip and held of late charges of Highway Robber and Anglophile to win his second-consecutive stakes event at the Pea Patch.
Wadsworth didn’t have the easiest journey and jockey Florent Geroux was forced to overcome traffic into the first turn of the 1 1/8-mile turf contest. The fleet-footed Worthington led the field of 11 3-year-olds into the first turn while being pressured by Act a Fool and Tall Boy. Geroux had Wadsworth positioned ninth in the first turn after checking several times between horses. Up the backside, Worthington was able to shake clear of his pace-pressing rivals and continued to lead the field through a swift half-mile in :46.19. While Worthington was winging it on the lead, Geroux attempted to improve Wadsworth’s position but he was in a tight spot in the four-path. At the half-mile pole, Wadsworth found an opening while pacesetter Worthington began to retreat back to the field. Around the far turn, Geroux tipped Wadsworth in the six path while Highway Robber was splitting horses and Anglophile found a seam at the rail. In the final strides, Wadsworth prevailed in a blanket three-horse photo by a head.
“This trip wasn’t as smooth as my victory on Bay Storm (in Race 7’s Ky Downs Preview Mint Ladies Turf Sprint),” Geroux said. “Wadsworth overcame a lot in this race and showed a lot of tenacity down the lane. In the first turn I got shut off. I kept going wide around the turn and was checked again when I tried to improve my position going onto the backside. I hit the front a little early in the stretch and he was kind of looking around a little bit. This was his first time going this far. It’s tough to get a gage on a horse in this type of situation if they can handle the distance because he had such a tough trip. I’m proud of him and the credit goes to trainer Brad Cox’s team.”
“He’s a horse we always had high hopes for,” assistant trainer Trace Messina said. “We brought him to Saratoga with us last summer and it took us a bit to figure out what he really wanted to do. We thought grass may be in his future since he’s out of the mare Dickinson. We found out what he likes to do and he’s enjoying it.”
Wadsworth notched his fourth-career victory in the Ky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby. He completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.30 over the “firm” going.
With his victory he now earned an automatic berth to the $1 million Dueling Grounds Derby (GIII) at Kentucky Downs.
Wadsworth is a 3-year-old gelded son of Quality Road. He was bred in Kentucky by his owner.
Here is the complete order of finish for the Ky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby (with $2 mutuel payouts):
1. Wadsworth ($3.76, $2.90 and $2.56)
2. Highway Robber (X, $8.34, $5.36)
3. Anglophile (X, X, $4.94)
4. Desert Duke
5. Tall Boy
6. Lincoln Highway
7. Act a Fool
9. Golden Bandit
10. Hidden Path
Racing is set to resume Sunday at Ellis Park with a first post of 11:45 a.m. CDT for Day 2 of Kentucky Downs Preview Weekend. For more information, visit www.ellisparkracing.com.
BAY STORM HOLDS OFF QUARIA COMET IN $200,000 KY DOWNS PREVIEW LADIES TURF SPRINT – Bridlewood Farm’s Bay Storm squeezed through an opening at the rail and was able to hold off the late charge of Quaria Comet to win Saturday’s fifth running of the $200,000 Ky Downs Preview Mint Ladies Turf Sprint at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.
Florent Geroux rode Bay Storm for trainer Jonathan Thomas. The duo completed 5 ½ furlongs over the “firm” turf in 1:01.24.
Bay Storm broke well from her inside post but was relegated to fourth behind speedster Love and Money,who completed an opening quarter-mile in :21.73 while being pressed to her outside by Goin Good. Bay Storm and Geroux kept their position at the rail as the field turned for home but could not find an opening to get by Bay Storm. As the field straightened in the stretch, Love and Money gave Bay Storm just enough of an opening to her inside that she was able to power to the lead but had to hold off the late charge from Quaria Comet, who was rallying four wide under jockey Joe Talamo. At the wire, Bay Storm dug in and held Quaria Comet at bay by a neck. It was another 1 ¼ lengths back to Goin Good who held third.
“I think the difference was being able to keep (Bay Storm) at the rail while (Quaria Comet) had to go wide,” Geroux said. “I tried to follow Love and Money around as long as I could. At the top of the lane he gave me just enough of an opening at the rail I was able to squeeze through. It’s a big credit to my mare who went right through.”
The Ky Downs Preview Mint Ladies Turf Sprint was Bay Storm’s fifth-career victory from 16 starts. The 5-year-old daughter of Kantharos has now banked purse earnings of $708,755. Bay Storm was bred in Kentuck by Candy Meadows.
Here is the complete order of finish for the Ky Downs Preview Ladies Turf Sprint:
1. Bay Storm ($5.12, $3.26 and $2.52)
2. Quaria Comet (X, $3.54, $3.04)
3. Goin Good (X, X, $3.24)
5. Love and Money
6. Semble Juste (IRE)
7. Souper Munnings
8. New Boss
The Ky Downs Preview Ladies Turf Sprint awarded Bay Storm an automatic entry to the Sept. 9, $1 million Mint Ladies Turf Sprint (GII) at Kentucky Downs.
HOZIER PREVAILS LATE TO WIN KY DOWNS PREVIEW MINT MILLIONS TURF MILE – Storyteller Racing’s Hozier prevailed in a long stretch drive to win Saturday’s seventh running of the $200,00 Ky Downs Preview Mint Millions Turf Mile at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.
Hozier is trained by Rodolphe Brisset and was ridden to victory by Alex Achard. The duo completed one-mile in 1:34.28 on the “firm” turf.
The pace was slow to develop in the Ky Downs Preview Mint Millions Turf Mile and Minnesota Readyinherited the lead into the first turn. Hozier was rating in fifth and continued to stay in position as the field completed a half-mile in a reasonable :48.29. The pace began to quicken around the far turn as Big Dreamingmade the lead after Minnesota Ready retreated. Hozier remained at the rail until the field reached the top of the stretch and Achard tipped the gelding four-wide. It wasn’t until the final stages of the race that Hozier was able to find the front end while holding Fuerteventura at bay by a half-length.
Hozier boosted his overall record to 23-5-4-2 and improved his overall earnings to $739,365.
Hozier is a 5-year-old gelded son of Pioneerof the Nile out of the Henny Hughes mare Merry Meadow. He was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm.
Here is the complete order of finish for the Ky Downs Preview Mint Millions Turf Mile (with $2 mutuel prices):
1. Hozier ($10.76, $5.60 and $4.14)
2. Fuerteventura (X, $5.18 and $4.14)
3. Big Dreaming (X, X, $5.96)
4. Gray’s Fable
5. Greyes Creek
6. Max K.O.
8. Minnesota Ready
10. Play Action Pass
11. Santos Dumont