(May 24, 2008) – Jockey Robby Albarado capped a four-win day with a hedge-skimming victory aboard Lattice in Saturday’s $170,100 Louisville Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs. Conditioned by Al Stall Jr., the 4-year-old colt beat 34-1 outsider Transduction Gold by three-quarters of length en route to his second career graded stakes win.
Lattice, bred in Kentucky by his owners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, ran 1 ½ miles over a “firm” turf course in 2:31.13 for his fourth victory in nine starts. The $99,134 winner’s share of the purse jumped his career earnings to $345,233.
Last summer, Lattice took the Grade II American Derby at Arlington Park.
“This horse is growing up,” said Albarado, who notched his third stakes win of the Spring Meet. “I rode him all last year and I felt like I always had to shove on him and get him some position. I had to make him do things, but we thought a lot of him. This year he’s taking himself into the race and he’s running.”
Sent off as the 5-2 second betting choice in the field of 11 older horses, Lattice tracked pacesetter Transduction Gold from the inside through dawdling fractions of :26.25 for the first quarter mile, :52.08 for the half, 1:17.21 for three-quarters of a mile and 1:42.38 for one mile.
Lattice, in close pursuit the entire way, began to vie for the lead midway through the final turn, slipped through an opening along the inside and kicked on gamely for the victory.
“There was an obvious question with the third turn and the trip, but I figured that if he stayed the trip he was certainly competitive with this group. And he did,” said 46-year-old Stall, who collected his fourth Churchill Downs stakes win and first since the 2003 Edgewood with Forest Shadows. “It might be a new road to go down, these staying races. It’s kind of exciting. It’s all new to me, that’s for sure. But I’m looking forward to trying to plot out a little program for him.”
Birdbirdistheword, a 46-1 longshot, finished a neck behind Transduction Gold in third with 2-1 favorite Brass Hat fourth and three-time Louisville Handicap winner (2004-06) Silverfoot fifth.
The 7-year-old gelding Brass Hat and 8-year-old Silverfoot were last and third to last, respectively, with a half-mile to the finish. Both displayed strong closing kicks, but could not close ground on the top three.
“They were going so slow up front,” said Brass Hat’s jockey Calvin Borel. “He (trainer Buff Bradley) wanted me to take him back a little bit, and distance-wise he was perfect, but they were going too slow.”
Lattice, a son of Arch out of the Rahy mare Lateral, returned $7.40, $4.60 and $4.20. Tranduction Gold paid $23.80 and $13. Birdbirdistheword returned $13.20.
Albarado won three other races on Churchill Downs’ 11-race program to grab sole possession of the lead in the jockey standings from Julien Leparoux, 26-25. Leparoux, the defending riding champ, won three races, including an allowance with Sam P., who equaled Louisville Stakes (GII) winner Ginger Punch’s time of 1:43.08 for 1 1/16 miles – the two fastest of 33 races at the distance this meet.
Albarado – nine-for-22 since Wednesday – rode three winners for trainer Ken McPeek, including Rue de Vie in the second race. That triumph gave McPeek, the Spring Meet’s leading trainer with 16 victories, his 200th win at Churchill Downs. Only 28 trainers have accomplished the feat in the 133-year history of the track.
“We love to win here at Churchill Downs and we love to win at Keeneland,” said McPeek, Churchill Downs’ 2002 Fall Meet training champ. “We’re on fire at the moment (16-for-36 for a 44.4% win clip). I’ve got a great team behind me and a great group of clients. At this rate, I think we can even get to 300 or 400!”
Live racing on Memorial Day weekend resumes Sunday at Churchill Downs with a 10-race program that begins at 1:15 p.m. ET. On Monday, the special 11-race holiday program is topped by the $100,000-added Winning Colors Stakes (GIII). Defending champ Miss Macy Sue headlines a field of six fillies and mares for the six-furlong sprint.
Louisville Handicap Jockey & Trainer Quotes
AL STALL JR., Trainer of LATTICE (WINNER)
Q: You were a little concerned going into the race about his ability to handle the mile-and-a-half distance…
“There was an obvious question with the third turn and the trip, but I figured that if he stayed the trip he was certainly competitive with this group. And he did.”
Q: What does a win like this make you think with him for the rest of the year?
“It might be a new road to go down, these staying races. It’s kind of exciting. It’s all new to me, that’s for sure. But I’m looking forward to trying to plot out a little program for him.”
Q: What were your thoughts during the race? He was in a good spot, but the pace was very slow…
“I just thought it would be best if Robby just put him in a trance and let him just go steady, because in his training it just seems like he can literally gallop all day long. That’s what Robby did, he just kind of let him pace himself and he ended up being in the right spot.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on LATTICE (WINNER)
“This horse is growing up. I rode him all last year and I felt like I was always having to shove on him and get him some position. I had to make him do things, but we thought a lot of him. This year he’s taking himself into the race and he’s running.”
Q: Miguel Mena on Transduction Gold said he didn’t see you coming up the inside until it was too late…
“He’s not supposed to see me (laughs). They were going slow. He’s supposed to be that close – he even gave himself a breather midway down the backstretch.”
Q: This is a big step for Lattice…
“He’s coming around at the right time.”
JOHN GLENNEY, owner-trainer of TRANSDUCTION GOLD (runner-up)
“We thought if we slowed it down we could be able to get it from the front end, but it’s a tough mile-and-a-half. Then once he got a horse in front of him, he really dug in. That’s probably his better style, just stalking a little bit.”
MIGUEL MENA, jockey on TRANSDUCTION GOLD (runner-up)
“He was running good on the lead, but I didn’t see Robby (Albarado on Lattice) coming up the inside. I wish I would have. He got through on me. By the time I saw him it was too late.”
Q: Did you know how slow you were going out there?
“Yeah, it was like :52 (for the half-mile) – it was really slow. I thought we were going to steal it, man – we’ve been able to steal a few races on the lead on the grass. He was the only speed and I thought he was going to hold on to the lead. I thought I was going to get it.”
JESUS CASTANON rider of BIRDBIRDISTHEWORD (third)
“He ran big. I wasn’t really surprised, because I knew that horse could run. He ran well last time and made a nice run last time. Here he was going to go a mile and a half and I thought with the way he likes to run, he was going to get me through the race, and he did.”
Q: Did the pace hurt your chances?
“Yeah. If I had been a little closer maybe it would have been a little different kind of thing. But we just decided I was going to ride it the way it came out.”
WILLIAM “BUFF” BRADLEY, BRASS HAT, (4th as the favorite)
“I stood and just watched them go on and run around the turn after the race and it seemed like he just got geared up. So he got about a three-eighths of a mile run and that was it – the rest was a gallop.”
Q: It had to be frustrating to see him that far back off a slow pace…
“I didn’t mind him being far back, but when the pace was slow, that’s what bothered me. That was the thing, and the first thing Calvin said was ‘That’s my fault.’ And he should know, but he didn’t. He knew he was going slow, but he said he just didn’t want to gear him up too early and was hoping for something more. He said he left him too much to do -- and he did. But that’s part of horse racing. Calvin not knowing him well might have been a factor, too. But he got him to relax well and that’s what I wanted to see. I wanted to see him relaxed and on the rail, and he had him there in a good enough position – but he just didn’t have any pace out front. I thought there would be pace. Looking at the race, I thought there would be pace.
Q: He ran well despite the slow fractions, so would you try him on the grass again?
“I don’t think the grass bothers him – I can run him on the dirt or the grass. I think if he’d have had the right trip today, you’d have seen a different outcome.”
CALVIN BOREL, jockey on BRASS HAT (4th as the favorite)
“They were going so slow up front. He (trainer Buff Bradley) wanted me to take him back a little bit, and distance-wise he was perfect, but they were going too slow. It’s not we were 20 miles back, but he wanted me to take him back there and just make one run – which he did, but they just went a little too slow.”
Q: You also had to go wide with him….
“Down the lane was the only part I really had to go wide with him, so it was fine. The old horse finished up real good, I thought.”
NOTE: Hall of Fame jockey Don Brumfield, the second leading rider in Churchill Downs history and a winner of 12 local riding titles, presented the Louisville Handicap trophy to the winning connections. Brumfield was celebrating his 70th birthday.
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