Alsvid ranged into contention on the far turn and ran down reigning champion sprinter Work All Week to win Saturday’s 27th running of the $100,000 Aristides (Grade III) by two lengths at Churchill Downs.
Alsvid, a 6-year-old gelding who is no stranger to the winner’s circle, ran six furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.34. Chris Landeros rode the winner for owner James Rogers’ Black Hawk Stables and trainer Chris Hartman. Both Rogers and Hartman collected their first Churchill Downs stakes victories.
For Alsvid, it was his 13th victory from 30 starts and the $60,760 winner’s share boosted his career earnings to just shy of millionaire status at $994,225. Nine of Alsvid’s wins have come in stakes races and Saturday’s triumph meant back-to-back Grade III victories. Previously, the bay Kentucky-bred won the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (GIII) on April 9 at Oaklawn Park.
“He’s proving himself, he really is,” Landeros said. “Today was probably his best improvement. Coming out of the one-hole he had some things against him and I was proud of him today, I really was.”
Breaking from an arguably disadvantageous post 1 in the field of seven older horses, Alsvid was eased out of the gate by Landeros and had only late-running Viva Majorca beat just a few strides after the break. Approaching three-sixteenths of a mile into the sprint, Landeros angled Alsvid to the outside and into the clear.
Work All Week grabbed the lead from longshot pacesetters Googleado (ARG) and Good Lord midway around the turn after running the first quarter mile in :21.48. Alsvid also was moving well while under a snug hold from Landeros, and the two leaders were set for a heated stretch battle after reaching the top of the lane in :44.45.
Landeros dropped his hands and shook the reins at the three-sixteenths pole and Alsvid responded by drawing away from Work All Week for the comfortable win under a steady drive.
“This was my first graded stakes win at Churchill Downs and it feels pretty good,” said Hartman, who is tied for fourth in the Churchill Downs trainer standings with a record of 40-8-5-6—$276,019 through 22 days of the 38-day Spring Meet – his first year of campaigning at the historic Louisville track. “We did beat the champ so I guess we are right there with the best sprinters in the country.”
Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Work All Week, the 3-5 favorite who was crowned America’s top sprinter of 2014 after winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) at Santa Anita, may have been compromised with a bobble at the start.
Alsvid paid $7.20, $2.80 and $2.60 as the 5-2 second choice. Work All Week, ridden by Florent Geroux, returned $2.40 and $2.10. Nates Mineshaft, under Rafael Mojica Jr. was another 4 ½ lengths back in third and paid $4.40.
Viva Majorca, Gentlemen’s Bet, Good Lord and Googleado (ARG) completed the order of finish.
Alsvid is a son of Officer out of the Afternoon Deelites mare Reagle Mary and was bred in Kentucky by Yanagawa Stud Ltd.
Not all was lost by Midwest Thoroughbreds. Owner Richard and Karen Papiese’s vast outfit rebounded to win the $57,672 Opening Verse overnight stakes with come-backer The Pizza Man, who ran down pacesetter Frac Daddy to win the 1 1/16-mile grass race by 2 ½ lengths in 1:43.29. Geroux was aboard for trainer Richard Brueggemann.
The Pizza Man, a 6-year-old gelded son of English Channel, banked $31,428 to improve his record to 21-13-1-2—$841,365. He paid $6.20 to win as the 2-1 favorite in the field of eight.
CHRIS HARTMAN, trainer of Alsvid (winner): “This was my first graded stakes win at Churchill Downs and it feels pretty good. We did beat the champ so I guess we are right there with the best sprinters in the country. This was the most logical spot on the racing calendar for him. We’re going to have to study up and decide where to go from here.”
CHRIS LANDEROS, jockey of Alsvid (winner): “I thought Florent [Geroux] had a lot more horse. I saw him flick his stick out a little bit on the turn and I knew that he was asking him a little bit more turning for home, and I thought ‘Don’t let him get away from you now; I’ve got to get the jump on him.’ But he [Work All Week] was coming off a layoff; he’s a great horse we just caught him on the right day and I believe that my horse is just getting better and better. He’s proving himself, he really is. Today was probably his best improvement. Coming out of the one-hole he had some things against him and I was proud of him today, I really was. I’m more excited for the owner and trainer; they’ve given me a big opportunity even three years ago when I first got on this horse. I rode him in his first race [at Remington] and in his second start we won a stakes race.”
RICHARD PAPIESE, Midwest Thoroughbreds co-owner of Work All Week (runner-up): “He ran well and was coming off a layoff. He was off a good while. I think he was a little bit flat. Nobody made any mistakes here. It wasn’t the rider or the trainer. He bobbled a little early and he (Geroux) took a little hold of him, but he doesn’t like that. He was in a good spot, but he doesn’t like sitting. You’ll see a sharper horse next time.”
FLORENT GEROUX, jockey on Work All Week (runner-up): “He ran great. We’re a little disappointed that he didn’t win, but he’s coming off a long layoff. It’s not like he was 200 percent ready. This race wasn’t the target. He bobbled a little bit leaving the start and it cost him a little bit, but the winner has been running great and he ran all winter. He was a hundred percent and we were coming off a long layoff.”
RAFAEL MOJICA JR., jockey on Nate’s Mineshaft (third): “I got in a little trouble with him about the half-mile pole. He got squeezed and was pushed back really bad. I had to take-up on him a little bit, but he came back. If that hadn’t happened he’d have been right there.”
OPENING VERSE QUOTES
FLORENT GEROUX, jockey on The Pizza Man (winner): “We had the perfect trip. We just stalked on the inside and today were turning back in distance from last year. He is a better horse around a mile-and-an-eighth and mile-and-a-quarter so we’ll see how he comes back and the trainer will decide where he’s going to go. It feels great. I’m a little disappointed to get beat with the big horse [Work All Week], but the road needed to stop somewhere and he ran a great race against a horse that had been running all winter, so I can’t be mad at him. Hopefully next time he’ll get it.”
ROGER BRUEGGEMANN, trainer of The Pizza Man (winner): “I was a little disappointed with the other one [Work All Week] but I really can’t make an excuse for him. I thought they both ran big today. We may run in the Stars and Stripes (GIII) and we might try the Arlington Million (GI). I’d like to run in a ‘Win and You’re In’ and maybe end up in the Breeders’ Cup with him. We kind of wanted to just get a start. We got setback because of the weather this winter and we just didn’t get either one of them started when we wanted to so I thought we’d run them both on the same day.”
COREY LANERIE, jockey on Frac Daddy (second): “I thought at the 5/16-pole that he was going to win because he was going so slow. The best horse beat him today, and he got a little tired late but I wasn’t going to beat The Pizza Man.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on Departing (third): “We had a great trip. He felt nice and he tried to win. Look for a big effort from him next time.”