Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence's Central Banker fought off repeated bids from Shakin It Up in a stretch duel to win the 80th running of the $464,800 Churchill Downs (Grade II) Presented by Twinspires.com by a head.
Trained by Al Stall Jr. and ridden by Corey Nakatani, Central Banker covered the seven furlongs on a fast main track in 1:21.15.
Defending champion Delaunay and Falling Sky dueled for early supremacy through fractions of :22.29 and :44.67 with Central Backer stalking just off the top two.
Nakatani moved at the leaders at the top of the stretch, but was soon joined by Shakin It Up and Mike Smith. However, Central Banker never let the West Coast invader by.
The victory was worth $270,885and boosted Central Banker's account to $590,785.
Central Banker is a Kentucky-bred son of Speightstown out of the Go for Gim mare Rhum.
Central Banker returned $23.60, $10.20 and $7.20. Shakin It Up paid $6.20 and $4. Clearly Now, ridden by Javier Castellano, finished 1 ¾ lengths back in third and paid $4.60 to show.
It was 1 ½ lengths back to Broadway Empire in fourth. Completing the field in order were defending champion Delaunay, Capo Bastone, Sahara Sky, Laugh Track, Quiet Force, Falling Sky and River Bear.
CHURCHILL DOWNS QUOTES
Corey Nakatani, rider of Central Banker (winner) – "(Trainer) Al (Stall Jr.) said to warm him up anyway I wanted and that he's a horse I could do anything with so I said, 'OK, let's go get the money.' He's a horse that runs better when he has a target and I was able to tuck him in there. When the horse Mike (Smith on Shakin It Up) was on came at him, he re-broke and was all racehorse from there. He made me look good."
Al Stall Jr., trainer of Central Banker (winner) – "Well I thought there was going to be a ton of pace in there and when I saw him lay close and pretty comfortable... I guess they weren't going quite as fast as I thought they were. He got that outside draw as opposed to the inside draw in the Carter. And Corey (Nakatani) said when that horse came up on him on the outside that he could literally feel (Central Banker) gritting his teeth and fighting. This horse has as big of a heart of any horse I've ever had in my career, by far. He's a racehorse, that's exactly what he is."
Mike Smith, rider of Shakin It Up (second) – "He really dug in but I could never catch the winner. I just couldn't catch a break. He ran really good, the winner just ran a nose better."
Javier Castellano, rider of Clearly Now (third) – "Unfortunately, he didn't break good out of the gate. I lost a lot of ground in the beginning. I wish we could've been a little bit closer to the pace and then find the kick. That's the way it goes, though; that's a great race. I'm very proud of the way he did it because he finished third coming from behind horses and he finished really, really good."
Joel Rosario, rider of favored Sahara Sky (seventh) – "He didn't get hold of the track. We lay back there and I thought he was going to make a move. But the farther we went, he never got hold of the track. The pace was perfect. He was exactly where we like to be. He just couldn't find it today."
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 Presented by Yum! Brands on May 3, 2014. The 2014 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs is scheduled for April 26-June 29. 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.