Morton Fink’s Successful Dan outdueled Warrior’s Reward in a stretch-long battle by a head to win the 12th running of the $108,900 Northern Dancer (Grade III) for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Successful Dan reeled off fractions of :24.54, :48.63 and 1:13.01 with Warrior’s Reward and Calvin Borel lurking just behind in the field of six. Turning for home, Warrior’s Reward drew on even terms with Successful Dan but never could push on by as Successful Dan remained undefeated in three starts.
Trained by Charles Lopresti, Successful Dan ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:43.30. A Kentucky-bred son of Successful Appeal out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle, Successful Dan earned $66,843 with the victory and increased his earnings to $128,603.
Successful Dan returned $6.40, $3.20 and $2.40. Warrior’s Reward paid $2.20 and $2.10 with Omniscient, ridden by Robby Albarado, finishing 3 ¼ lengths back in third and returning $2.40 to show. Dumar, Gresham and Broad Stone completed the field in order.
POST-RACE QUOTES – THE NORTHERN DANCER
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey of SUCCESSFUL DAN (winner)
Q: When Warrior’s Reward came to you…
“I thought that I had a lot of horse left when he (Calvin Borel) came to head me. I wasn’t really expecting to see him that early in the race so I knew I had to move early so he wouldn’t get the jump on us. If he would have moved before me, he would have probably won the race. This is a very good horse, he hasn’t made any mistakes yet.”
“I really thought Calvin was going to come by, but my horse just kept going and kept digging, so he fought and kept a head in front of him, so that was good.”
CHARLES LOPRESTI, trainer of SUCCESSFUL DAN (winner)
“It’s really exciting. He’s a really nice horse, but we just didn’t know whether he’d get the two turns, but he sure fought hard today.”
Q: What did he show you that made you think he was good horse?
“When we breezed him early on, he’s such a big, long-striding horse, but the first time I breezed him a half-mile he went like :47 and he did it real easy, and I thought ‘Holy smokes, he’s a pretty nice horse’.” We were optimistic when we ran him first time at Keeneland, then he was slow breaking and then he really showed a good race there. Then I didn’t know if he’d like the dirt here, because he’d never been on the dirt. But the way he ran here showed us he was a pretty good horse, and the next thing was to try to get him to go a little further. We tried to get an allowance race for him here to try him around two turns and see what happened, but we couldn’t get it to go. So we put him in here and it worked out pretty good.”
Q: How does this change your picture of going down the road with him?
“I think we’ve got a good horse and we’ll see how he comes out of it and go from there. He really, really showed some heart here. I thought there for a minute that he was beat, because that’s a very, very good horse that we ran against. That’s a really good horse.”
CALVIN BOREL, jockey of WARRIOR’S REWARD (runner-up as the favorite)
“He ran good, he ran good. There was no pace and two horses were scratched. He just needed a little something to run at. He got a little tired right at the end, but he had never been that far under pressure. The race didn’t just set up to his style. He likes to take back and make a run. But that’ll happen sometimes. That’s why I had to lay a little closer, but he ran good and just missed.”
IAN WILKES, trainer of WARRIOR’S REWARD (runner-up as the favorite)
“Both horses ran hard. The other horse (Successful Dan) just outran us down the lane. Let’s not undercut that, the winner ran hard. My horse ran good, but the other horse ran fantastic. I haven’t lost any faith in him. I thought he ran a tremendous race.”
Q: What will you consider next?
“Probably the Dwyer (the Grade II, $200,000 Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles will be run on Saturday, July 4 at Belmont Park). He needs more experience. Just like the horse who beat us. He ran twice and we had run four times. We need to keep going and our horse will get better.”