Itsinthepost took command at the head of the stretch and posted a 1¼-length victory over Charming Kitten to win the 32nd running of the Grade II, $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn for 4-year-olds and up before a Saturday afternoon crowd of 18,505 at Keeneland.
Trained by Jeff Mullins and ridden by Tyler Baze, Itsinthepost covered the 1½ miles on a turf course labeled as yielding in 2:31.22. It is the first Keeneland stakes victory for Mullins and Baze.
“It’s been my dream to win a (stakes) race at Keeneland,” Baze said. “This horse has been just a phenomenal horse, especially the last year. He gives it everything. Once I got him to the outside, it was just a matter of being patient because this stretch is a long stretch.”
Chocolate Ride led the field of eight through the first mile of the race with Bigger Picture and Itsinthepost in closest pursuit. Midway on the final turn, Itsinthepost moved three-wide along with Bigger Picture and those two quickly opened up on the field.
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Itsinthepost surged to the front at midstretch and drew away with more than enough to hold off the late charge from Charming Kitten, who rallied from last.
The victory was worth $150,000 and increased Itsinthepost’s earnings to $512,712 with a record of 25-5-6-5. It was the second consecutive Grade II victory for the 5-year-old gelding, who captured the San Luis Rey at Santa Anita in California on March 25.
“It seems like the further he goes the better he gets,” Mullins said.
Itsinthepost, who has won or finished second in nine of 10 starts for Mullins, is a son of American Post out of the Mozart mare Sakkara Star.
Itsinthepost returned $7.40, $4.60 and $2.80. Charming Kitten, ridden by Julien Leparoux, rallied to finish second and paid $6.20 and $3.80 with Bigger Picture finishing another neck back third under Jose Ortiz and paying $3 to show.
It was another length back to Danish Dynaformer, who was followed in order by Red Rifle, Bullards Alley, Chocolate Ride and Interpol.