Mark Bacon and Dana Wells’ Silver Max went to the front early and never was threatened in winning the 21st running of the $238,200 American Turf Presented by RAM (Grade II) by 2 ¾ lengths over Travel Advisory on Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano and trained by Dale Romans, Silver Max won his third consecutive race on turf, including a score in the Transylvania (GIII) last month at Keeneland.
Silver Max, a Kentucky-bred son of Badge of Silver out of the Kissin Kris mare Kissin Rene, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a Matt Winn Turf Course rated as firm in 1:41.10.
The victory was worth $137,346 and increased Silver Max’s earnings to $306,821 with a record of 10-4-5-0.
Silver Max returned $12.40, $7 and $5. Travel Advisory, ridden by Manny Cruz, returned $21.60 and $11.60 with Howe Great finishing third another three-quarters of a length back under John Velazquez and paying $4.80 to show.
Completing the field in order were Finnegans Wake, Look At the Time, Coalport, Gung Ho, Tones (IRE), Blueskiesnrainbows, Scatman, Flashy Dresser and Silver Menace. Star Channel unseated jockey Javier Castellano at the head of the stretch.
Castellano was unhurt and cleared to ride the following race, the 138th Kentucky Oaks, on morning-line favorite Grace Hall.
AMERICAN TURF QUOTES
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Jockey, Silver Max, first) – “My horse was much the best in the race. He got to the lead pretty easy and he showed me a really big kick in the stretch.”
On the delay: "I wasn't concerned about the rain on the course. I know he has run on an off turf course in the past so I wasn't worried about it."
DALE ROMANS (Trainer, Silver Max, first) – “This is a really nice horse. This is a really super turf horse. I didn’t care about the jockey situation on a business level or on a jockey level. I was concerned for my friend, but everything else was going to be easy – you just go to the front and hang on. And that’s what Rafael did – just what we told him in the paddock – just open up a couple down the backside and he’s got great stamina.
“Every once in a while you get those horses that can do it (consistently win on the front end over the turf), and I can two of them – Little Mike and him – and they just seem to get stronger as the race goes on. It is a rare quality.
“It was all mental with him. I don’t think he understood competing early in his career. When he figured it out, though, he figured it out.”
Where next? “I don’t know. A mile-and-a-quarter in Virginia maybe? We’re going to have to sit down and think about it. Maybe stay here for the Jefferson Cup.
Was the weather delay a concern? “It wasn’t a concern at all. These are stakes horses and they have good minds about them and they can handle Mother Nature. But they had to do what they had to do just to keep everybody safe. It didn’t bother anything.”
KELLYN GORDER (Trainer, Travel Advisory, second) – “This is the horse (Silver Max) that beat us at Keeneland (in the Transylvania). We were hoping the pace would be more contested. The leader just got his own way. The one thing (jockey) Manny (Cruz) told me is this horse is going to love a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half. Overall we are really pleased.”
JOHN VELAZQUEZ (Jockey, Howe Great, third): “We had a perfect trip. He handled it OK. With a little rain, the track is a little slick, so he was running a little spotty. He was not sure about it.
“I saved ground right away. I was right inside in the first turn so it didn’t really hurt him.”
GRAHAM MOTION (Trainer, Howe Great, third): John said he was really slipping. The turf seemed very greasy and he said he felt very unsure of himself. Otherwise, he ran a very good race. He’s a very solid horse. He had a very tough post today and he kind of broke out, but Johnny said that didn’t affect him as mcuhc as the greasy turf.”
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 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012, and its 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.