West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again rallied past favored Kodiak Kowboy in the final 50 yards to post a half-length victory Saturday in the $115,200 Derby Trial, the opening day feature of the 52-day Churchill Downs Spring Meet that will be highlighted by the 134th running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on May 3.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Macho Again rated off the pace set by Eaton’s Gift, who took the field of nine through fractions of :22.59 and :45.14 and was still on top at the head of the stretch before being surrounded. Fujita punched through on the inside to grab a brief advantage while Macho Again and Kodiak Kowboy moved as a team on the outside and began to draw clear of the field at the sixteenth pole.
Trained by Dallas Stewart, Macho Again completed the 7 ½ furlongs over a “fast” track in 1:28.45. A Florida-bred son of Macho Uno out of the Wild Again mare Go Donna Go, Macho Again improved his record to 8 3-2-0 with earnings of $143,761.
Sent off as the fifth choice, Macho Again returned mutuels of $14.20, $5.60 and $3.80. Vinery Stables’ Kodiak Kowboy, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $4 and $3 after finishing two lengths ahead of My Purple Haze Stables’ Fujita, who paid $5 to show under Calvin Borel.
Completing the field in order of finish were Majestic Warrior, Da’ Tara, Iron Works Pike, Eaton’s Gift, Turf War and Lemon Spice. Zulu Magic was scratched.
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 is set for 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.
JULIEN LEPAROUX (winning rider, MACHO AGAIN):
“He broke good and was in good position. As they made the run into the stretch, we got bumped a little bit between the eighth and sixteenth (pole). When he got bumped, it made him go again.
“I rode him before around two turns and he was not the same. Around one turn, that’s the kind of distance he needs.”
DALLAS STEWART (winning trainer of MACHO AGAIN):
“Can we get him in the Derby? Make this race $300,000.
“He’s a really honest colt. He had a little bit of trouble at the quarter-pole. Kodiak Kowboy dug in tough at the sixteenth pole and Macho had to work hard to get by him and he finished up really well.
“He loves the track. He likes the dirt. We’ve just got to keep him off the Polytrack. He trains well over it, but he just doesn’t get down and run on it.
“There are a ton of good 3-year-old races coming up, so we’ll see. This horse still has to mature a little bit, but he’s got a lot of fight in him.
“He had a little bit of a setback at the Fair Grounds. He had a little problem in the hind after the LeComte. We had to work on him with some therapy and he responded really well and came back and won his next start. We put him in the LeComte thinking we’d get him on the Derby trail, but he had that little setback in the hind leg.”
COREY LANERIE (rider of KODIAK KOWBOY, 2nd):
“We got to bumpin’ and slidin’ a little bit on the turn, but it wasn’t too bad. In the end it was a good trip. I got through and he gave it a good run. He just got a little tired at the end. He ran hard and he ran a good race.”
CALVIN BOREL (rider of FUJITA, 3rd):
“He ran his heart out. We had the good trip; down inside and saving the ground. I was pleased with him. He ran his heart out.”