Stronach Stable’s Giant Gizmo roared from off the pace to run down dueling leaders Better Than Bonds and Wanderin Boy in the stretch en route to a 3 3/4-length victory in the fifth running of the $166,050 Alysheba Stakes (Grade III) for 3-year-olds and up on Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
Giant Gizmo covered the mile and a sixteenth over a “sloppy” track in 1:43.96 in turning back six rivals. In winning for the fifth time in 10 career starts, the four-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway increased his earnings to $268,680 with the victory that was worth $100,891.
The victory was the second stakes win of the day for Stronach Stable, trainer Bobby Frankel and jockey Rafael Bejarano. They had teamed to win the Grade II Louisville with Ginger Punch two races earlier.
Better Than Bonds, under Edgar Prado, and Wanderin Boy, 2007 Alysheba winner under Corey Nakatani, led the field through fractions of :23.56, :47.41 and 1:11.97. Swinging into the stretch, Giant Gizmo made his move on the outside and swept to the lead at midstretch and pulled away.
Giant Gizmo returned mutuels of $12.60, $6.40 and $4. Better Than Bonds, who outgamed Wanderin Boy for second by a neck, returned $10 and $5.20 with Wanderin Boy returning $3.20 to show.
The race was marred by the breakdown of Centennial Farms’ Chelokee. Winner of the Northern Dancer (GIII) at Churchill Downs last summer, Chelokee took a bad step at the head of the stretch and suffered a condylar fracture of the right front leg. He was taken to the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., according to Dr. Larry Bramlage.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez, who was aboard Chelokee, was examined in Churchill Downs First Aid and was cleared to return to the jockeys’ quarters.
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 Global Select Market: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2008. The track’s 2008 Spring Meet runs from April 26 through July 6. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record six times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.
POST-RACE QUOTES: THE ALYSHEBA
Bobby Frankel (winning trainer, Giant Gizmo) – “Well, he likes the slop!”
Rafael Bejarano (winning jockey, Giant Gizmo) – “He broke a little slow so I just took him inside and tried to get him relaxed. He didn’t like getting mud in the face, so around the three-eighths I put him on the outside and he made a little move on the turn and he started running really good.”
Edgar Prado (jockey, Better Than Bonds, 2nd) – “He had a good trip. He tried hard.”
Corey Nakatani (jockey, Wanderin Boy, 3rd) – “He couldn’t get the lead. It was his first race (this year) and he tried really hard. I thought he wouldn’t have any trouble getting the lead because he was fresh, but he ran a good race.”
Nick Zito (trainer, Wanderin Boy, third) – “He hasn’t run since the Breeders’ Cup. I thought he could outrun Better Than Bonds. I was surprised that Better Than Bonds showed that speed. He (Corey Nakatani) said he slipped a little bit on the track. Really, the rain got them by surprise. It was a downpour.“We’ll chalk it up. We’ll come back and run. We’ll find another race.”
Ramon Dominguez (jockey, Chelokee, DNF ) – “He was traveling absolutely perfect. I had the best horse in the race. I was just trying to pick my spot and as soon as he got to the top of the lane, he switched to his right lead and broke down. There was absolutely no contact.”