Maggi Moss’ Delaunay took the lead on the far turn and widened the margin in the stretch to win Saturday’s 26th running of the $112,900 Aristides (Grade III) at Churchill Downs by 3 ½ lengths over defending champ Scatman.
Delaunay, trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, covered the six furlongs on a fast main track in 1:09.59.
The Aristides, which honors the inaugural Kentucky Derby winner of 1875, was the ninth career stakes win for the durable 7-year-old gelding that was claimed by Moss for $40,000 in May 2012.
Delaunay, who was restless at the starting, broke well from post position five and contested the pace set Jasizzle, who ran the opening quarter mile in :21.86. Racing three-wide, Delaunay asserted himself entering the turn, opened a clear lead midway around the bend, crossed the half-mile marker in :44.96 and drew clear down the stretch for an easy victory.
The triumph was worth $67,898 and boosted Delaunay’s account to $985,491 – just $14,509 over the coveted million dollar mark. Overall, he sports a 45-16-10-3 career record.
Delaunay, the $0.70-1 favorite in the field of eight older horses, returned $3.40, $2.80 and $2.40. Scatman, with Julien Leparoux up, paid $5 and $3.40. Captain Genius, ridden by Leandro Goncalves, finished another 1 ¾ lengths back in third and returned $4.60. Mico Margarita, Jasizzle, Voodoo Storm, Jake Mo and Take It Like a Man completed the order of finish. Brewing was scratched.
Delaunay, a gelded son of Smoke Glacken out of the Coronado’s Quest mare Perilous Night, was bred in Maryland by Fitzhugh LLC.
He hasn’t missed a paycheck in 14 subsequent races since Moss claimed him. Earlier this year, Delaunay won the $57,600 F.W. Gaudin Memorial at Fair Grounds. Prior to the Aristides, Delaunay tired inside the final furlong of the Churchill Downs (GII) on Kentucky Derby Day to finish fifth after setting the pace.
Napravnik scored a stakes double one race later when Vinery Stables’ millionaire gelding Regally Ready, the winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII), took the ninth running of the $64,907 Opening Verse, an overnight stakes for older horses. The 7-year-old trained by Steve Asmussen beat Villandry by three-quarters of a length and ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.26. The Kentucky-bred paid $3.20 to win and improved his record to 33-13-2-6—$1,423,518.
The Opening Verse often serves as a steppingstone to the $200,000-added Firecracker (GII) at one mile over the Matt Winn Turf Course on June 28.
Napravnik, 26, has won four stakes through the first 21 days of the 38-day Spring Meet. Earlier this season, she won the Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) for the second time in three years when Untapable cruised to a 4 ½-length triumph on May 2. She also won the Humana Distaff (GI) the following day on Kentucky Derby Day with Midnight Lucky.
Racing at Churchill Downs continues Sunday with a nine-race program that begins at 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern). There’s a $12,897 carryover in the Single 6 Jackpot, which covers Races 4-9.
ROSIE NAPRAVNIK, jockey of Delaunay (winner) – “It was a great trip, just how we hoped it would pan out. He’s so great because he’s so fast and has no problems sitting off of another horse. He really knows what he’s doing and he just cruised home.”
TOM AMOSS, trainer of Delaunay (winner) – “It was one of those rare races that went the way we thought it would. We had a little speed inside of us so we laid off of him and tried to increase our advantage on the turn. Once we did that Delaunay’s courage got very big turning for home and he was able to do the rest on his own.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey of Scatman (second) – “He had a good trip, he broke well and put me in the race. He made his run and just got beat, that’s it.”
BRAD COX, trainer of Captain Genius (third) – “He ran well. He kind of got away just a tick slow. Leandro (Goncalves) probably had to use him just a little bit down the backside to keep good position and we were a little wide around the turn. But he ran very respectably. I was very, very happy with the effort. It’s a graded stake with a horse that we claimed for $25,000, so it’s hard to feel bad about it.”
LEANDRO GONCALVES, jockey on Captain Genius (third) – “He kind of broke back a little bit; he didn’t break as sharp as last time. So that kind of cost me a little bit and I had to rush him a little bit after that and I had to take back off horses and drop-in, and then were a little too wide on the turn. But he ran well. Maybe with a good trip he could have run second, but I didn’t think he was going to beat Delaunay no matter what.”
OPENING VERSE QUOTES
ROSIE NAPRAVNIK, jockey of Regally Ready (winner) – “It was a great trip. We were able to sit off the outside and just relax and he rated very nicely. He’s a really cool horse. He just picked it up down the lane and his class carried him on for the win.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey of Villandry (second) – “He ran well but the post position (post one) just kind of beat us today. We got trapped inside with nowhere to go so I just had to wait and go around everybody. He made a big run at the end though.”