Sitting midpack in an 11 horse field halfway down the frontstretch, jockey Javier Castellano flashed the whip and American Patriot dashed by five horses in the final furlong to win the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland Friday.
The win gave trainer Todd Pletcher a record 51st stakes win at Keeneland, surpassing D. Wayne Lukas for the all-time mark.
But it looked like the recognition would have to wait as American Patriot jogged along the turf with little urgency almost four-fifths of the way through.
“I spoke to Todd early this morning,” Castellano said after the win. “I rode with a lot of patience, a lot of confidence. I took my time and turning for home, I let him go a little bit. The way he finished was tremendous.”
The 4-year-old dark bay colt, owned by WinStar Farm, saved his best for a burst that erased a two-length lead coming home for Heart to Heart.
“That was really cool,” Pletcher said from Florida. “We always felt like he had a lot of potential.”
Castellano rode American Patriot to his maiden win at Keeneland last spring.
“I really like this horse,” Castellano said. “I had a lot of optimism that he would get it done today.”
Heart to Heart, the Brian Lynch-trained 6-year-old, has won seven graded stakes. This was his fourth attempt at a Grade I victory. Heart to Heart followed the front-running What a View into the first turn and sat patiently in second until jockey Julien Leparoux made his move as they exited the stretch. They looked to be pulling away.
“You can’t ask for any more than he gave us today,” Lynch said of Heart to Heart. “He even tried to stick his nose out at the wire. I think Julien gave him an unbelievable ride, and (Heart to Heart) laid it down too. It’s just one of those things in racing. We did all the grunt work and somebody capitalized on it in the last jump.”
American Patriot, a 10-1 shot, paid $23 for the win. Heart to Heart (4-1) paid $5.40 and late-running long shot Conquest Panthera (27-1) paid $13 for third. That combo produced the day’s richest trifecta of $1,867.20.
Fourth race scramble
The turf produced the two closest races of the day. The Denali, a $70,000 allowance over a mile, saw a four-wide dash to the line.
Jockey Declan Cannon made a huge move to the inside as he exited the turn aboard 13-1 shot Pour Girl. As she pulled alongside pacesetter Awesome Song, Pour Girl surged again to get a head in front and held off the charges of Giada Vegas and Res Ipsa for a photo finish at the wire. Trained by Sam Q. Logsdon, the 4-year-old filly paid $29 and combined with Awesome Song ($7.80) and Giada Vegas ($7) for a $1,790.40 trifecta, which was the best of the day until the Maker’s mayhem.
The Lady is a champ
Keeneland has four stakes races on the card Saturday, headlined by the $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (Grade I) going to post at 6:12 p.m.
The 1 1/16 mile turf race for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, features morning line even-money favorite Lady Eli, a six-time stakes winner, including the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf.
Her last time out, the Chad Brown-trained 5-year-old finished second by a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita. She had a win and two seconds in 2016 after coming off a nearly 14-month layoff due to laminitis.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will be up as Lady Eli attempts to maintain her perfect record at Keeneland. She won the Appalachian Stakes in 2015 in her only other Keeneland appearance.
Last Derby chance?
The $200,000 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (Grade III) goes off at 5:34 p.m. and is the last minor prep race for the Kentucky Derby, offering 17 total Road to the Derby Series points (compared to the Blue Grass Stakes’ 170). But none of the entries in the 10-horse field look to be targeted for the Derby.
West Coast, trained by Bob Baffert, comes in as the 3-1 morning line favorite. The bay colt to be ridden by Flavien Prat has a win and a place in his only two starts, both at Santa Anita. Baffert won the Lexington last year with Collected and took him on to the Preakness.
Co-second choice is No Dozing (4-1), who was on the Derby trail early in the series, but saw his campaign stall after a sixth in the Sam F. Davis on Feb. 11 and a fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. The Rusty Arnold II-trained Convict Pike (8-1) has 10 Derby points and could conceivably push into Derby consideration with a win.
4:24 p.m.: $200,000, Grade III Ben Ali Stakes
5:34 p.m.: $200,000, Grade III Stonestreet Lexington Stakes
6:12 p.m.: $350,000, Grade I Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes