Scatman sat just behind the early pacesetters before swinging wide on the turn and ran down Jasizzle in deep stretch to win the 25th running of the $106,800 Aristides (Grade III) by a neck on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
Scatman, ridden by the meet’s leading rider Shaun Bridgmohan and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, ran six furlongs on “sloppy” dirt in 1:10.56 to give owner/breeders Jim and Ellen O’Grady’s JEOG Racing, LLC of Black Mountain, N.C. their first stakes winner.
“It’s very exciting, especially to happen here at Churchill,” Jim O’Grady said.
Rothko, the defending race champ who broke from the rail as the 8-5 favorite, and Jasizzle, who started from the outside post, vied for the early lead and took the compact field of five older horses through fractions of :22.04 and :45.25. Scatman sat just off their flank and made his winning move midway around the turn when Bridgmohan took him to the four-path after Good Lord dropped out of contention. Jasizzle gained a short lead over Rothko in the stretch, but Scatman responded willingly to Bridgmohan’s urging and got up in time for the victory.
“I had a pretty good trip and things set up,” Bridgmohan said. “I was able to get him in the clear and he came running.”
“I was a little worried around the turn,” said Kenny McCarthy, Mott’s veteran assistant who oversees the conditioner’s Churchill Downs stable. “I could see he was going quite well, but he just needed a little bit of room. When (Good Lord) dropped back, it gave us a little room to come out and around. He kicked it in well.”
Scatman, sent off as the 7-2 fourth betting choice, paid $9, $4.20 and $2.80. Jasizzle, ridden by the Robby Albarado, returned $3.80 and $2.80. Rothko, who faltered late under Ricardo Santana Jr., finished another 2 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $2.40. Good Lord was another three lengths back in fourth, a half-length ahead of the trailer, St. Maximus Gato.
Scatman, a 4-year-old son of Scat Daddy out of the Grand Slam mare Hit It Here Cafe, won for the fifth time in 16 starts. He is 2-for-3 at Churchill Downs. The $66,216 winner’s share of the purse jumped the Kentucky-bred’s bankroll to $314,939.
For Mott, it was his 672nd victory and 87th stakes win at Churchill Downs – both track records.
Meanwhile, Bridgmohan is on pace to have his best meeting at Churchill Downs since he began riding locally in the fall of 2005. The Aristides triumph was his 32nd winner on the 21st day of the 38-day Spring Meet. It also was his third stakes win this season (he also won the Unbridled Sidney on Good Deed and Keertana aboard Treasured Up) and second victory in the Aristides. He won the 2010 renewal with Riley Tucker.
Racing at Churchill Downs continues Sunday with a 10-race program that begins at 2:45 p.m. (all times Eastern).
Jim O’Grady of JEOG Racing LLC, owner of Scatman, winner: “It’s very exciting, especially to happen here at Churchill. Churchill Downs is a great place and we’ve enjoyed being here. This is our first stakes win and the first stakes win for Scatman, too.”
Kenny McCarthy, assistant to Bill Mott, trainer of Scatman, winner: “I was a little worried around the turn. I could see he was going quite well, but he just needed a little bit of room. When (Good Lord) dropped back, it gave us a little room to come out and around. He kicked it in well.”
Shaun Bridgmohan, rider on Scatman, winner: “I had a pretty good trip and things set up. I was able to get him in the clear and he came running. Last time (third beaten one length at Churchill Downs on May 1), I gave him a little bit too much to do and he came up a little short. I knew if I didn’t give him a whole lot to do today that he could get there.”
Tommy Mills, owners and trainer of Jasizzle, runner-up: “I told ‘em at the barn that I didn’t think I could be beat today. My horse has been doing everything just so right. If the track had been a little faster, we win.
“He’s just so talented. I think the best move we made was sending him to Fair Grounds, getting that race in him (a 3rd place run in a Jan. 25 allowance-optional claiming race) and getting him back. We really didn’t get to run him the way we wanted in the stake at Charles Town (4th in the Charles Town Dash on April 20). The turn was a little sharp for his liking. But bringing him into that (Churchill Downs) allowance off of that race, this horse has just moved nothing but forward. Now we’ve got to figure out where we want to go with him next or what we do with him next.
“If you just let him go out there and work kind of casual, he doesn’t run good. But if you send him and ask him and put that bit in his mouth and say, ‘Okay, this is business time,’ he really performs great off of that. And he really likes eyeballin’ horses. I just wish we could have shortened six furlongs by a couple of feet.”
Note: Mills, 50, trains a six-horse stable at The Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington. He has been training on his own since 2004.
Robby Albarado, rider on Jasizzle, runner-up: “He’s a little bitty guy, but he sure runs big. He put away the one (favored Rothko) turning for home, then he sparked back in and tried to beat the other one (Scatman). I’ve got no complaints about him. He handled the track good and everything. They went quick for a muddy track.”
Q: You were in pretty good shape turning for home … “I was confident with him turning for home. I knew Steve’s horse (Rothko, trained by Steve Asmussen) looked like he was doing it pretty easy, so when I kind of put him away I felt really confident. But then I felt somebody coming and I figured it was the winner. He’s a classy horse.”
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2014 and its 2013 Spring Meet is scheduled continues through Sunday, June 30. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.ChurchillDowns.com.