Donegal Racing’s Finnegans Wake made the last run count as he got up in the final strides to win the 29th running of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) for 4-year-olds and up.
Finnegans Wake, closing on the far outside, got up in time to edge Sky Captain by a head with Jack Milton another head back in third. However, Sky Captain was disqualified from second to fourth for impeding Seek Again in deep stretch.
Trained by Peter Miller and ridden by Victor Espinoza, Finnegans Wake completed the 1 1/8 miles over a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:47.24.
Sky Captain and South African invader Umgiyo (AUS) led field of nine through fractions of :24.44, :47.85 and 1:11.28. On the far turn, Umgiyo began to retreat and Jack Milton made a big move on the outside to join Sky Captain at the front end.
Those two dueled the length of the stretch only to be nailed in the shadow of the wire by Finnegans Wake.
The victory was worth $282,100 and improved Finnegan Wake’s bankroll to $1,387,475 with a record of 29-7-4-3. Finnegans Wake is a 6-year-old son of Powerscourt (GB) out of the Silver Ghost mare Boat’s Ghost.
Finnegans Wake returned $9.40, $4.80 and $3.20. Jack Milton, ridden by Javier Castellano, returned $4.60 and $3.40 with Seek Again returning $3.60 to show under Joel Rosario.
Completing the field in order behind Sky Captain were Slumber (GB), Grand Arch, Optimizer, Chocolate Ride and Umgiyo (AUS).
WOODFORD RESERVE TURF CLASSIC QUOTES
VICTOR ESPINOZA, jockey of FINNEGANS WAKE (winner)
“I got there just in time. Turning for home I thought I would catch him, but then I said, ‘Uh-oh, this is going to be tough.’ I started working on him. He’s old. He wants to do whatever he wants. He wanted to take his time, so I let him do whatever he wants and enjoy himself in the beginning. Then after a half-mile I said, ‘You know what, we better start moving.’ I started working on him. I wanted to save ground at the end, but any little stop would have cost him the race. To swing to the outside was the best thing for him.”
JAVIER CASTELLANO, jockey of JACK MILTON (third, placed second via DQ)
"I think the inside horse, he come out and made contact with the other horse. Maybe we got lucky. Maybe we got second place here. ... I had a beautiful trip stalking behind the horses. He relaxed. He finished good. He gave me a good run. I can't complain. I'm satisfied with how he did it today. ... He finished very strongly. He just got beat by the bob. Those three horses were head to head.''
JOEL ROSARIO, jockey of SEEK AGAIN (fourth, placed third via DQ)
"I said something because if there is any concern in the race you have to talk to the stewards. I let them know that it was before the wire. I couldn't tell who came in or who came out. For me it's hard to tell. I'm riding. It was tight right at the end and I had to take a hold of my horse."
BILL MOTT, trainer of SEEK AGAIN (fourth, placed third via DQ)
"He wasn't good enough to win the race today. He had a good enough trip, I think. The 2 horse (Sky Captain) came out and bothered him. It hindered him a little right at the end, but I didn't think it cost him the win."
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey of SKY CAPTAIN (second, placed fourth via DQ)
“I thought he ran hard the whole way and he dug in and he was trying every step of the way. I hit him left-handed and he ducked out so that’s what they were looking at.”
JOE TALAMO, jockey of CHOCOLATE RIDE (eighth)
"We lost it right there (at the break). It was very unfortunate. He was standing good. Right before they broke, he kind of threw his head up."