Handsome Mike Takes Commonwealth (G3), Havelock Captures Shakertown (G3)
LEXINGTON, KY (April 13, 2013) – Charles Fipke’s homebred Java’s War overcame a slow start to catch Palace Malice in the final yards to win the 89th running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) by a neck before a crowd of 37,161 on a bright Saturday afternoon at Keeneland.
Saturday’s attendance is the second largest in track history, surpassed only by the 40,617 on hand for last year’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
It was trainer Ken McPeek’s second victory in the race, having won the 2002 edition with Harlan’s Holiday. It was the first Toyota Blue Grass victory for jockey Julien Leparoux.
Java’s War, a homebred son of War Pass out of the Rainbow Quest mare Java (GB), completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.27 over the fast main track.
In addition to the $450,000 winner’s check, Java’s War received 100 qualifying points toward the 139th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on May 4 at Churchill Downs. Now with 122 points, Java’s War is guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, that is limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box.
Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice picked up 40 points for running second to boost his total to 50, which should be enough to make the Derby field.
Java’s War improved his career record to 7-3-1-1 and increased his earnings to $672,091.
Favored Rydilluc, breaking from post position 13 under Edgar Prado, and Undrafted jockeyed for the lead the first time past the finish line as Java’s War was last in the field of 14 after walking out of the gate.
After a first quarter-mile in :23.81 from Undrafted, Prado put Rydilluc on the lead and opened a daylight margin with internal fractions of :48.04 and 1:12.76.
Meanwhile, behind Rydilluc, Palace Malice was getting a dream run under Garrett Gomez. Palace Malice slipped inside of a tiring Undrafted and turned into the stretch with a clear shot at Rydilluc. At that juncture, Leparoux had Java’s War moving widest of all and began picking off horses.
Palace Malice finally put Rydilluc away past the eighth pole and just failed to hold off Java’s War. Charming Kitten closed fast to finish third, another neck back.
Java’s War returned mutuels of $11.20, $5.60 and $4. Palace Malice paid $6 and $4.60 with Charming Kitten, ridden by Joe Bravo, returning $11.20 to show.
Rydilluc finished 1¼ lengths back in fourth and was followed in order by Fear the Kitten, Balance the Books, My Name Is Michael, Channel Isle, Dynamic Sky, Uncaptured, Tesseron, West Hills Giant, Undrafted and Footbridge.
The handle on the All-Stakes Pick Four, which encompassed the Shakertown (G3), Madison (G1), Jenny Wiley (G1) and Toyota Blue Grass, was $683,826. That figure eclipsed the record of $617,685 set on Toyota Blue Grass in 2009.
Earlier Saturday afternoon, Reddam Racing’s Handsome Mike and Silverton Hill’s Havelock posted Grade 3 victories with triumphs in the 27th running of the $175,000 Commonwealth Stakes and the 17th running of the $100,000 Shakertown Stakes, respectively.
In the Commonwealth, Handsome Mike put away a stubborn Gantry in deep stretch to prevail by 1¼ lengths. Handsome Mike completed seven furlongs on the main track in 1:23.14 and earned $108,500 to boost his career earnings to $880,530 with a record of 16-3-1-1.
Trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez, Handsome Mike and Gantry led the field of five through fractions of :23.22 and :46.31. The two leaders turned into the stretch as a team with Handsome Mike slowly pulling clear to give Gutierrez his first Keeneland victory.
A four-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Scat Daddy out of the Smart Strike mare Classic Strike, Handsome Mike posted his first victory since winning the 2012 Pennsylvania Derby (G2).
Handsome Mike returned $9.40, $4.40 and $2.80. Gantry, ridden by Richard Eramia, returned $4.20 and $2.80 with Candyman E, who finished 1½ lengths back under Joe Bravo, returning $2.80. Bind and Bernie the Maestro completed the field in order.
In the Shakertown, Havelock found room next to the rail and rallied through a small opening to get up in time to edge Something Extra by a nose in a blanket finish in which the first five finishers were separated by less than a length.
Havelock, a six-year-old Maryland homebred son of Great Notion out of the Spectacular Love mare Pinoneach (NZ), covered 5½ furlongs on a firm turf course in 1:03.02 to earn $60,000. Winner of the 2011 Woodford Stakes (G3) here in 2011, Havelock improved his record to 21-8-0-3 and boosted his earnings to $525,491.
Perfect Officer and Berlino Di Tiger (BRZ) led the field of nine through an opening quarter-mile in :21.75 with Havelock at the rear of the field. The leaders remained unchanged at the head of the stretch with a number of challengers stacking up on their flanks.
Gomez waited until midstretch before diving toward the rail, squeezing through and striking the front a few yards from the wire. It was the second Shakertown victory for Gomez, who won the race in 2006 with Atticus Kristy.
Havelock returned $18.60, $7.80 and $4.80. Something Extra, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $4 and $2.60 with defending race champion Perfect Officer finishing third, a head back under Javier Castellano, and paying $3 to show.
Finishing a neck back in fourth was Canuletmedowneasy, who was followed in order by Next Question, Hogy, Regally Ready, Berlino Di Tiger and China.
Racing continues Sunday with a nine-race program that is highlighted by the 28th running of the $150,000 Beaumont Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G2) for three-year-old fillies on the Beard Course of seven furlongs, 184 feet. First post time is 1:05 p.m. (ET) with the Beaumont going as the eighth race with a 4:42 p.m. post time.