LEXINGTON, KY (April 25, 2014) – Dismissed at odds of 18-1, Unitarian and jockey Javier Castellano made a late run to win the 29th running of the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) before 18,966 fans on closing day of the 15-day Spring Meet.
The victory by the 4-year-old son of Pulpit, a homebred racing for Robert S. Evans, in the 1½-mile race on turf gave trainer Todd Pletcher the 40th Keeneland stakes win of his career and his first win in the race. Unitarian was the second winner in the race for Castellano following Macaw (IRE) in 2005.
As the field of 13 runners broke from the gate, Tattenham rushed to the lead and set the pace through most of the race, setting fractions of :25.35, :51.14, 1:16.67, 1:41.64 and 2:06.83. Optimizer and Temeraine, the 4-1 favorite, held the next two positions.
Unitarian raced near the back of the pack until the final turn when Castellano moved him eight wide into the stretch. War Dancer took the lead from Tattenham nearing the furlong marker, opened clear and raced on but could not hold off Unitarian, who was charging on the outside. Unitarian won the race by 1¼ lengths under a hand ride from Castellano.
Time for the race on a course labeled good was 2:32.60.
Unitarian paid $38.80, $19.80 and $12. War Dancer returned $9.80 and $6.80. Finishing 1¼ lengths behind in third was Temeraine, ridden by Jose Lezcano, who paid $4.20 to show.
Suntracer was a neck back in fourth and was followed in order by Tricky Hat (CHI), Tattenham, Forte Dei Marmi (GB), Amen Kitten, Eagle Poise, Old Time Hockey, Royal Bench (IRE), Optimizer and Hangover Kid. Rapscallion was scratched.
Unitarian, a Kentucky-bred out of the Dynaformer mare Minimalist, is from the female family of 2009 Toyota Blue Grass (G1) winner General Quarters. He earned $150,000 for the win to increase his career earnings to $331,480 with four wins in 14 starts. Two of his victories came earlier this year in consecutive allowance races on turf at Gulfstream Park.