My Boy Jack had one last chance to lock up a spot in this year’s Kentucky Derby. On Saturday at Keeneland, he took full advantage of that opportunity.
A 3-year-old bay colt trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by Kent Desormeaux, My Boy Jack broke from the far-outside 10th gate, held back for much of the race, then stormed to the front in the stretch to win the 37th Stonestreet Lexington Stakes, edging second-place Telekinesis. He finished the 1 1/16-mile race over a fast track with a time of 1:44.22.
The Lexington, with a purse of $200,000, was one of two final Kentucky Derby prep races on Saturday, along with the Arkansas Derby. With the win, My Boy Jack earned 20 points on the Road to the Derby leaderboard to give him 52, locking up a spot in the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5.
Fortunately for the 22,145 fans at Keeneland on Saturday, predictions of heavy rain didn’t materialize, though the sky was gloomy and overcast all day. The dreary conditions were were in direct contrast to the mood of My Boy Jack co-owner Kirk Godby after the victory.
“This is just unbelievable. We were on the outside (of the Derby) looking in and we had a job to do,” Godby said. “And he just did it for us today. … The thrill of it to see him finish it off was incredible.”
There was an added element of sweetness in the win for Godby.
“We’ve won a ton of races out of our stable and this is the first time I’ve ever been there live to see one of our horses win,” Godby said.
When asked what helped him improve on My Boy Jack’s third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, Kent Desormeaux joked: “Fortunately, I didn’t grab a hot dog at the quarter pole and that made the difference.”
Desormeaux said My Boy Jack’s come-from-behind style could serve him well on Derby Day.
“I think it will (suit him) probably even better. We always tend to get a true, honest pace in the Kentucky Derby and I think he’ll enjoy that.”
Saturday marked the second graded stakes win for My Boy Jack. He also won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 19. In the Grade 3 Stonestreet he went off as the 3-2 favorite and paid $5, $3.20 and $2.40. Telekinesis, 7-2, paid $4.60 and $3.40. Pony Up, at 5-1, finished third.
A $2 exacta paid $21.80, a trifecta $84.60, and a superfecta $236.60.
In the fifth race, a post-inquiry shuffling of the board moved quite a bit of money around. Bird’s Eye View, among the favorites at 5-1, closed late and crossed the finish line first. It would have been jockey Javier Castellano’s third win in four mounts on the day, but an objection resulted in Bird’s Eye View being bumped down to fourth after it was ruled he interfered with other horses while making his move in the midstretch.
Instead of Castellano’s third win of the day, the race marked the first win on North American soil for Sun Lover, a British-born 5-year-old ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., who went off at 7-1 odds.
The ruling also meant a second-place finish for 54-1 shot Sekondi, who paid $52.40 and $21.20. That resulted in a $2 exacta payout of $649.80.
Ben Ali: Castellano didn’t have to wait long for that third trip to the winner’s circle. He steered Rated R Superstar to a big win in the seventh race, the 88th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Ben Ali Stakes. Going off at 6-1, Rated R Superstar swung wide in the final turn and quickly pulled away from the pack to win going away. The 5-year-old paid $14.60, $5 and $3.40.
Chip Leader, the Todd Pletcher-trained favorite at 9-5, held on for second. That ran Pletcher’s streak of Keeneland entries without a winner to 19, with seven runner-up finishes. Guest Suite, 5-1, finished third.
Giant’s Causeway: Triple Chelsea made a steady move down the backstretch to win the 22nd running of the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths. Ridden by Adam Beschizza and going off at 8-1 odds, Triple Chelsea pulled away from 3-5 favorite Lady Aurelia, who finished second. Morticia, the second choice at 5-2, was third.
Jenny Wiley: It was a clean sweep in the 10th for Chad Brown. The powerhouse trainer took the top three spots in the 30th Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes. Irish-bred filly Sistercharlie, at 3-1 odds and making her first start in more than nine months, easily won the 1 1/16 mile turf contest. Fourstar Crook finished second at 7-1 and Off Limits, also Irish-bred, finished third at 5-1.
Saturday’s second race produced a major payout. Cayman’s Cobra, a 12-1 shot ridden by Gabriel Saez, won the $76,000 Practical Joke for 3-year-olds ahead of second-place Front Door, who went off at 46-1. Pryor, at 5-1, finished third. Heavy favorite Ruler of the Nile, at even odds, was among the leaders for 6 furlongs but then dropped out, finishing last.
Cayman’s Cobra paid $27.60 on a $2 bet for the win while Front Door brought $31.80 for second. Pryor’s third-place finish netted $4.20.
Bettors who were in on the top-two finishers likely had a good day. A $2 exacta paid $683.00 while the trifecta paid $2,478.60. The superfecta, which included fourth-place He Takes Charge, paid a whopping $8,341.
Veteran racing writer passes away
Before racing began on Saturday, word began to circulate in the Keeneland press box that veteran journalist William Nack had passed away.
Sports Illustrated, which employed Nack as its lead turf writer for 23 years, reported that he died on Friday at age 77.
Nack worked for Newsday covering a wide range of topics before departing for Sports Illustrated. He also authored the book “Secretariat: The Making of a Champion,” published in 1974 and widely regarded as one of the finest biographies ever written of the Thoroughbred legend.
In 1990, Sports Illustrated published Nack’s account of Secretariat’s Triple Crown run as well as the horse’s final hours.