Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Cinco Charlie took the lead out of the gate and held off a mild bid from Senor Grits to win the inaugural running of the $100,000 William Walker Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1 ½ lengths on the opening night of the 2015 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Cinco Charlie covered the six furlongs on a “good” track in 1:10.86.
Cinco Charlie was involved in a three-way tussle early with Weast Hill and Holiday Camp with odds-on favorite Blofeld just in behind the leaders on the rail through opening fractions of :21.85 and :45.63.
At the top of the lane, Cinco Charlie shook clear to record his sixth stakes victory and run his Churchill Downs record to a perfect three-for-three. He broke his maiden here at first asking on May 9 last year and won the Bashford Manor (GIII) in his next start.
A Kentucky-bred son of Indian Charlie out of the Marquetry mare Ten Halos, Cinco Charlie ran his record to 11-7-1-2 and boosted his earnings to $419,182 with Saturday’s $61,380 winner’s check.
Cinco Charlie returned $7.40, $4.20 and $2.20. Senor Grits, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $6.40 and $2.60 in finishing a half-length in front of Blofeld who paid $2.10 to show under John Velazquez.
Finishing another 2 ¼ lengths back in fourth was Henry Jones, who was followed in order by Weast Hill and Holiday Camp.
Racing resumes Tuesday with a nine-race program beginning at 12:45 p.m. (ET).
WILLIAM WALKER QUOTES
RICARDO SANTANA JR. jockey of CINCO CHARLIE (winner): “No special instructions. The man (assistant trainer Scott Blasi) just said ‘Good luck’. We had it and he ran his race.”
SCOTT BLASI, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen of CINCO CHARLIE (winner): “He’s a professional race horse. He’s a pleasure. He ran his race today, just like he always does. We’ll look at the (seven-furlong, $500,000) Woody Stephens (GII) on Belmont Day (June 6) for him next.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey of SENOR GRITS (second): “He ran well. The race set up well for him and he came running at the end but he was just second best tonight.”
TODD PLETCHER, trainer of BLOFELD (third): “I thought he ran well for his first race off a (nearly six-month) layoff. He galloped out well. It was a tough spot to start back with the night racing and the muddy track. Hopefully this will lead to bigger things for him.”