Wertheimer and Frere’s Colizeo outlasted Worldly by a neck after a stretch-long battle to win the 13th running of the $136,375 Northern Dancer (GIII) for 3-year-olds on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
The race was a near repeat of when the two colts met here last fall as 2-year-olds in their third career starts with Worldly edging Colizeo by a nose.
This time Colizeo, under Garrett Gomez, got the jump early on Worldly as he led the field of six through fractions of :24.89, :49.19 with Worldly in closest pursuit under Robby Albarado. At the three-eighths pole, Albarado sent Worldly after Colizeo and the two raced as a team to the wire with Colizeo proving best.
It was the second victory in the Northern Dancer for Gomez as well as trainer Todd Pletcher. The two teamed up to win the race in 2006 with High Cotton.
In improving his record to 8-3-2-0, Colizeo ran the 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.60. A homebred son of Distorted Humor out of the Dixieland Band mare Colony Band, Colizeo’s victory was worth $83,707 and raised his bankroll to $154,077.
Sent off as the favorite, Colizeo returned $5.40, $3.80 and $2.80, Worldly paid $6 and $4 with Vow to Wager finishing two lengths back in third under Miguel Mena and paying $4.20 to show. Completing the field in order were Max Silverhammer, Prince Will I Am and Crider.
The Northern Dancer trophy was presented by Steve Wolfson, owner of 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed.
NORTHERN DANCER QUOTES
GARRETT GOMEZ (jockey, COLIZEO, winner): “We didn’t feel like there was a whole lot of pace in the race and he ran pretty good like that the other day so ideally I wanted to ride him like I did the other day. (Jockey) Robby’s (Albarado) horse (Worldly) kept coming on and I thought I had him where I wanted. I asked mine for a little more and his horse would come back and eyeball me again. I thought once I really asked my horse I thought I would run away with it. I had a hard time doing that today. This was a good test for the horse.”
TODD PLETCHER (trainer, COLIZEO, winner): “He set a nice easy pace up front and really showed he had some talent today. We’ve taken our time with him and he’s run against some talented horses. If you look at the allowance race at Gulfstream, he ran against the likes of Fly Down and First Dude. He ran a good race and keeps taking a step forward after every race. He has potential. We’ll see how he comes back and look at our options for his next start.”
ROBBY ALBARADO (jockey, WORLDLY, second): “On the first turn I just got pinched back and squeezed.”