Glen Hill Farm’s Closeout coasted to a three-length victory over Gloria Goodbody to win the 28th running of the $114,900 Locust Grove Handicap (Grade III) to close out the 45-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Tom Proctor, who was winning the Locust Grove for the second time, Closeout covered the mile on a Matt Winn Turf Course labeled as “yielding” in 1:38.38. The victory was worth $71,238 and increased Closeout’s earnings to $310,671 for her fifth victory in 10 starts. Proctor’s other Locust Grove win came in 2006 with Rich In Spirit for Glen Hill Farm.
Ridden by Robby Albarado, Closeout was content to trail the field through the first half-mile as Tensas Yucatan cut out fractions of :23.84 and :47.99 with Zee Zee and Stealin’ Kisses in closest pursuit.
Approaching the far turn, Albarado began to move after the leaders and turning into the stretch Closeout moved four wide to quickly collar Stealin’ Kisses, who had taken a brief lead. Closeout quickly opened a daylight advantage and was never threatened in the run to the wire.
Closeout, who shared the starting high weight of 116 pounds with two others, returned $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10. Gloria Goodbody paid $4.40 and $3 in finishing two lengths ahead of Stealin’ Kisses, who paid $4.20 to show under Tony Farina. Completing the field in order were Zee Zee and Tensas Yucatan. The field was reduced to five when Leamington, Tizaqueena and Namaste’s Wish were scratched.
Jockey Julien Leparoux rode 62 winners in the meet to edge Calvin Borel, who finished with 61. The leading rider title was the third spring crown for Leparoux and fifth overall.
Steve Asmussen saddled 29 winners to claim his third spring leading trainer title and sixth overall. Ken and Sarah Ramsey won their record eighth spring leading owners title and 15th overall by notching 18 winners.
Racing resumes at Churchill Downs on Sunday, Nov. 1 for the Fall Meet that runs through Saturday, Nov. 28.
POST-RACE QUOTES – THE LOCUST GROVE HANDICAP
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey of CLOSEOUT (winner)
“She was a little rank early so I just rode her very patiently. We had an honest pace up front and she showed a lot of confidence when she tugged on me at the three-eighths pole. It was just a matter of her staying on her feet and getting over the soft going. It was a Cadillac ride so I didn’t have to do much on her. I’m not going to take credit for this one. Give all the credit to the barn and everyone that did all the hard work. I was just a passenger.”
TOM PROCTOR, trainer of CLOSEOUT (winner)
Q: Last time she looked a little rank and this time she relaxed nicely. . .
“It looked that way. There was speed . . . You know what, she hadn’t run in a long time and a lot of times they’ll be rank coming off that. I actually kind of was expecting that.”
Q: Was there a reason for her layoff at the end of last year?
“Good trainers give horses time off.”
Q: What kind of filly is she; is she a late bloomer?
“Well, actually, she is turf all the way. I think she’s got two or three full brothers that have all won stakes. But she showed right off the bat that she could run when I got her. I didn’t get her until December of her two-year-old year, but she showed she could run a little bit. I mean, I wasn’t surprised when she won first time out. She showed a lot in the mornings. She’s the best of her brothers and sisters and they were pretty good.”
JOHN GLENNEY, co-owner & trainer of GLORIA GOODBODY (runner-up)
“She’s been running well, but there was a short time between her last race and this one, but she had done well running off a short time between races before. She had never been on this yielding a turf and a mile is probably not her thing. When she runs a little bit longer it undoubtedly is going to help her. But she won her last race and was at the top of her game, training super, so you had to give it a shot. I was hoping she was going to get the lead, but when she didn’t, I was hoping at least she’d relax and Jon (Court) had her relaxed. Apparently she settled real well and that bodes well for the future because if she has to have the lead, she’s one-dimensional. But if she can sit back a little bit and wait, that’ll be to her advantage. She came running down the lane, so I was real happy. Coming from an allowance race to a stakes and to see her step up and get a good second is fantastic. You can’t complain when you get beat by a 3-5 or a 4-5 horse in really her first stakes on the turf, which is her preferred surface.”
Q: Are you going back to Del Mar this summer?
“We’ll go back to Del Mar. There are a couple of spots she might possibly get to. There’s a California Thoroughbred Trainers stake a mile and three-eighths toward the end of the meet. I hope we can find something at the beginning. But that’s a hard and fast turf course and I think she’s going to like that.”
JON COURT, jockey on GLORIA GOODBODY (runner-up)
“She broke good, sat behind the speed and rallied up right there with the winner, but the winner kicked away. He had the jump on us and ended up putting up a pretty good margin of daylight winning the race, so she ran a valiant second. She’s stakes-placed in a graded race, so she did really good.”
TONY FARINA, jockey on STEALIN KISSES (third)
“Mr. (D. Wayne) Lukas asked me to take a little hold. It was just a five-horse field and she was a little bit quick at the first quarter; she was running very easy as I came to the quarter pole. She started to tire a little bit when she turned for home and maybe that cost me second place, but she ran very good.”