Westrock Stables’ Decelerator prevailed by a neck over Wild Forest Cat to win Saturday’s 109th running of the $111,300 Debutante Stakes (Grade III) for 2-year-old fillies and give trainer Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas his record seventh victory in the race.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Decelerator raced in fourth place in the run down the backstretch as Brown Eyed Baby led the field of nine through the first quarter-mile in :21.66 with Wild Forest Cat and Our Tekela Rose in closest pursuit. At the head of the stretch after a half-mile in :45.39, Wild Forest Cat under Brian Hernandez Jr. took control with Decelerator right on her flank.
The two battled as a team through the lane, exchanging a few bumps, before Decelerator drew clear to complete the six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:11.28. Hernandez claimed foul against Decelerator, but the claim was disallowed.
The victory was worth $66,246 for the 2-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Dehere who was a $250,000 February purchase at Ocala. Decelerator, now 2-for-2, boosted her career earnings to $95,671.
Lukas first won the Debutante with Burnished Bright in 1986 and his most recent triumph before Saturday’s victory by Decelerator came in 2004 with Classic Elegance.
Saturday’s victory by Decelerator was Lukas first graded stakes win since Firey Pursuit won the Grade II Louisville Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2007. It was the 72nd stakes victory at Churchill Downs for the 73-year-old native of Antigo, Wis., just two victories behind all-time leader and fellow Hall of Famer Bill Mott. Lukas’ stakes total includes four victories in the Kentucky Derby (GI) and four in the Kentucky Oaks.
Sent off as the favorite, Decelerator returned mutuels of $4.60, $3 and $2.40. Wild Forest Cat returned $3.80 and $3.20. Kinsolving rallied to finish third another 3 ¾ lengths back under Shaun Bridgmohan and paid $3.60 to show. Both the second and third-place finishers are trained by Steve Asmussen. Completing the field in order were Tidal Pool, Phone Marybe, Send Rose Thecheck, Brown Eyed Baby, Henry’s Posse and Our Tekela Rose.
Racing resumes Sunday with a 10-race program that begins with a 12:45 p.m. EDT first post time. There will be a $66,217 carryover to the Z-5 Super Hi-5 wager, and that pool will carry over to the sixth race at Calder on Sunday afternoon.
POST-RACE QUOTES – THE DEBUTANTE (GIII)
D. WAYNE LUKAS, trainer of DECELERATOR (winner)
“You always get a little nervous when they throw the inquiry sign up like that. But I thought that the other horse (Wild Forest Cat) maybe came out as much as anything, but we don’t have the view that the other guys got.
“She’s a gutsy filly. You know, she hadn’t run since May and I didn’t do a lot with her, as you could see by the works. If she was short, she’d be short; I wanted to save a little something for that little place in northern New York (Saratoga). We’ll come back in about 30 days and go in the Schuylerville (Saratoga’s Grade III, $100,000-added Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs on Wednesday, July 29).
“These people, the Fords (Joe and Scott Ford), have been wonderful, wonderful people to train for. They’re going to be in this thing for a long time; they both have a passion for it. I’m just lucky to have made the association. They’ve really been something else. We’ve got about 13 horses together. We better get another one because I don’t like sitting on that number! I don’t miss a trick, do I?”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, rider of DECELERATOR (winner)
“It feels great to win a stakes for Mr. Lukas, especially a baby race. When we swung for home I didn’t really want to go that wide, but I didn’t want to get stuck behind Corey Lanerie (Our Tekela Rose) so I took the chance and went around outside and she finished up great for me. She is a really good filly.”
JOCKEY BRIAN HERNANDEZ JR., rider of WILD FOREST CAT (runner-up)
“She ran hard. But just late she was wanting to drift and drift, and both of ‘em were tired and they kind of came together and it cost us pretty good. We were in front of her the whole way and the minute they kind of brushed each other mine kind of threw in the towel for good. It was a tough race.
“I think we’ve run second in every major stakes race of the meet.
“I think we had a great chance today. It just didn’t work out for us.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, rider of KINSOLVING (third)
“She ran pretty good. She stumbled pretty bad leaving there and I had to reach up and let her gather herself up, but she made a nice little run in there.”
JON COURT, rider of TIDAL POOL (fourth)
“She broke just enough to be in a little trouble – you know, a 2-year-old. She overcome quite a bit and she just rallied up. She couldn’t save the ground I wanted to, but she rallied up for fourth, so you’ve got to give her a lot of credit. She took a lot of dirt in the face and showed a very competitive finish. I think with a little cleaner break she would have been a little more competitive on the front end, but a fourth-place finish is better than fifth.”