Padua Stables’ homebred Rothko made his first start in three months and dominated six rivals to win Saturday night’s 24th running of the Grade III, $109,400 Aristides at Churchill Downs by 2 ½ lengths over Will’s Wildcat.
The Aristides was the second of three graded stakes races run under the lights as part of Churchill Downs’ special “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” nighttime racing program. One race earlier, Island Bound won the Grade III, $110,100 Winning Colors.
Rothko, ridden by Corey Nakatani and trained by Steve Asmussen, clocked six furlongs on a main track rated fast in 1:09.40.
Rothko, bet down to the even-money favorite, was reserved off the rail as Cash Refund, Whiskey Rebellion and Will’s Wildcat battled for the early lead through fractions of :21.42 and :44.62. Rothko made a bold move to the leaders late on the turn and drew clear in the stretch for his fourth win in eight career starts.
Rothko banked $66,472 for the win – his first stakes triumph – and boosted his career bankroll to $228,552. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Arch paid $4.20, $3 and $2.60. Will’s Wildcat, who vied for the early lead then dropped back a bit and came again along the inside, returned $6 and $4.40. Whiskey Rebellion finished third and paid $4.60.
Good Lord, defending champ Noble’s Promise, Cash Refund and Global Power completed the order of finish. Riley Tucker, an Asmussen trainee, was scratched.
Steve Asmussen, trainer of Rothko, winner: “He’s a very good horse and it was great to see him perform like that. Hopefully we’re going to run in the Iowa Sprint and then the Vanderbilt, the same two races Majesticperfection won for (owners) Padua a couple of years ago.”
Corey Nakatani, jockey on Rothko, winner: “Steve (Asmussen) had him spot on and he loved what he was doing tonight. I was just biding my time and got him in the clear. I was pretty confident turning for home and he ran a big race.”
Jimmy Baker, trainer of Will’s Wildcat, second: “We were real happy. It was kind of a funny race. He had the lead, then he dropped back and came on again. But we were real happy to rebound off that last effort. The winner looks like a pretty good horse. We were just looking at his (past performances) and he was second to The Factor in the Grade I Malibu, and then he ran against him again. The winner is definitely a nice horse.”
Calvin Borel, jockey of Will’s Wildcat, second: “He ran a big race. I was able to lay off of ‘em just a little bit and they came back to me a little bit, but he just got outrun. He’s been running real good and the winner looks like a good horse. He ran a good race.”
Q: How about you? You had a scary moment when you were thrown from a horse a couple of races back? “I’m alright. He just flipped over and my iron struck me in my muscle (on the left leg below the knee), and I had a muscle spasm, I guess. But I’m fine.”
Akiko Gothard, trainer of Whiskey Rebellion, third: “I thought he ran very well, and he was the only 3-year-old in the field. It’s exciting. We’re very happy with him.”
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 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4, 2013, and its 2012 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. 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.
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