John Oxley’s Beethoven outdueled Giant Oak and favored Capt Candyman Can in a stretch-long duel to win Saturday’s 82nd running of the $168,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (Grade II) for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
The victory was the second in the race for Oxley and trainer John Ward, who won it in 1994 with Jambalaya Jazz. The same duo came back seven years later to win the Kentucky Derby (GI) with Monarchos.
Julien Leparoux sent Capt. Candyman Can to the lead in the field of nine and took the field through unopposed fractions of :23.62, :47.26 and 1:12.83 as Borel had Beethoven racing in mid-pack next to the rail. As the field began to approach the far turn, Borel began to close ground on the inside with Beethoven and reached even terms with Capt. Candyman Can at the head of the stretch by squeezing through a narrow opening inside the leader.
At the three-sixteenths pole, jockey Eusebio Razo Jr. sent Giant Oak after the top two on the outside and the trio raced as a team to the wire with Beethoven prevailing by a neck over Giant Oak with Capt. Candyman Can another neck back.
Beethoven, a Kentucky-bred son of Sky Mesa out of the Carson City mare Moonlight Sonata, covered the 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:44.14. The victory was the third in five career starts for Beethoven and the winner’s share of $99,994 increased his career earnings to $149,913.
Beethoven returned mutuels of $14, $6 and $3.40. Giant Oak returned $8.40 and $4.80 while Capt. Candyman Can paid $2.20 to show.
Completing the field in order were Zion, Stormalory, Jazzandthemagician, Coal Baron, Star of David and Big Surf.
Earlier in the closing-day “Stars of Tomorrow II” card that featured racing exclusively for 2-year-olds, L and M Partners’ Rachel Alexandra won the $162,900 Golden Rod Stakes (GII) by 4 ¾ lengths over Sara Louise in stakes-record time of 1:43.08 for the 1 1/16 miles. Borel rode Rachel Alexandra for trainer Hal Wiggins.
POST-RACE QUOTES – THE KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB
CALVIN BOREL (Jockey, BEETHOVEN, winner) – “He broke fair and I put him on the fence and I stayed there the whole way. It looked like Julien (Leparoux on Capt. Candyman Can) was having a little trouble relaxing the first part of it and he was kind of running off with him. I knew that would take a little bit out of him. I just stayed where I was and bided my time. When I turned for home, since I didn’t see anything coming I thought I had a heck of a chance to win. About 40 yards from the wire, he tried to pull up a little bit. He hung in there; he run a big race. I’ve got to give the credit to the owner (John Oxley) and the trainer (John Ward) for the opportunity.”
JOHN WARD (Trainer, BEETHOVEN, winner) – “I told racing secretary Ben Huffman before this race one thing they’ll have to say about him is that he has had three different races over this race track and there is no other horse in the country who is going to get another try before the Derby. He seems to handle it, ran well and Calvin (Borel) rode well, as usual. It was a good day. The neat thing about this horse is five riders have ridden him and they have all done well on him and that is really hard. Now we have to figure out who is going to stay with him. (The Derby) is always on my mind and Mr. (John) Oxley’s mind.”
CHRIS BLOCK, trainer of GIANT OAK (runner-up)
“He ran huge. He ran real big. He’s been training really well over this track. We brought him over right after Keeneland to get him ready for this. We thought he’d take to it and we figured he was a horse on the improve, so we thought he’d run good.”
Q: What will you do with him now?
“We’ll probably talk it over and see – maybe we’ll head to New Orleans with him. We’ll sit back and see how things develop.”
Q: Do you think he’s a Kentucky Derby-type horse?
“He could be. That’s why we ran him here to kind of see where we are.”
EUSEBIO RAZO JR., jockey on GIANT OAK (runner-up)
“I’ve always loved this horse from the first time I got on him. Every time I ride him, he improves. Chris (Block) told me that the way he’s been working, he’s improving. I think this horse has still got more to give. I can’t take anything away from the horse that beat me or the horse that ran third – those are nice horses. But this is an improving horse and they’re going to have a good time this winter.”
Q: Were you concerned about the dirt with him?
“No, not at all. I’ve worked this horse on the Polytrack and won with him on the turf. Nothing bothers him, so I didn’t think the surface would bother him.”
IAN WILKES, trainer of CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN (third as the favorite)
“He ran an unbelievable race. We made too many mistakes to win the race. Congratulations to John Ward and Calvin (Borel). And the second horse (Giant Oak) ran a terrific race. Congratulations to them. But we made too many mistakes. I thought we would relax a little more when we got the lead. We didn’t. He just didn’t switch leads when he should be doing it. It was little things – he was just trying to run too hard. But he showed me that I’ve got a lot of horse in how he fought on. He should have gotten beat maybe five or six lengths today, but he fought all the way down the lane – he even headed Calvin down the stretch. I’m very proud of him.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey on CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN (third)
“He was a little rank, but he didn’t run off – he wasn’t crazy. But it was just a little too much for a two-turn race. He’s technically a very fast, fast horse and we’ve got some work to do to help him relax at this distance. He’ll just have to learn. He’s a pretty smart horse and he fights – he’s got a big heart. Like I said to Ian, I thought at the quarter pole I was really done, but when Calvin came he just fought. He actually got back in front of Calvin, but he just got tired. I think we can do something about that.”
Q: You’ve had an incredible meet…
“It’s been wonderful every day. You come to work and you win a couple every day. It’s nice and I enjoyed it.”
Q: You’re final meet total stood at 63 wins – that’s a pretty amazing number…
“At first I didn’t really care about it. With two weeks left in the meet, people told me ‘You’re right there, you can do it,’ and I thought it’s OK if I don’t do it. But after I did it actually I’m very happy and I’m enjoying it more now, that’s for sure.”
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