Wayne Spalding and Faron McCubbins’ Bullards Alley grabbed the lead from pacesetters Wireless Future and Dynamic Sky at the head of the stretch and drew away late to beat Johns Kitten by 2 ¼ lengths in Saturday’s 79th running of the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
Bullards Alley, ridden by veteran jockey Francisco Torres, ran 1 ½ miles over a Matt Winn Turf Course rated “good” in 2:36.01 to give trainer Tim Glyshaw his first graded stakes win.
Wireless Future set the pace for the grass marathon from the onset through fractions of :26.04, :52.51, 1:19.04 and 1:45.60 with 8-5 favorite Dynamic Sky pressing from second and Bullards Alley tracking in third from the outside. Dynamic Sky briefly grabbed the lead at top of the stretch but Bullards Alley wore them down with a four-wide move and drew clear late under steady urging from Torres.
“It was a beautiful trip,” Torres said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. He’s the kind of horse that stays and he won so easy.”
The victory was worth $61,380 and improved Bullards Alley’s earnings to $256,191 with a record of 19-5-2-4.
Like Glyshaw, the Louisville Handicap was Bullards Alley’s first graded stakes victory. In December, he won the $75,000 Woodchopper over a mile in the mud at Fair Grounds. This was Bullards Alley’s first win in six attempts on turf.
“We were undecided,” said assistant trainer Natalie Glyshaw, who saddled Bullards Alley for her husband. “We were going to just run on the main track (if the race was transferred to dirt because of rainfall). He’s never won a race on the turf until today.”
Bullards Alley, a 4-year-old gelded son of Flower Alley out of the Kris S. mare Flower Forest, was bred in Kentucky by Eugene Melnyk.
Bullards Alley, who carried 114 pounds, returned $13.80, $6 and $3.60as the 5-1 fourth betting choice in the field of six older horses. Johns Kitten, who trailed the field early under James Graham and 114 pounds, paid $5.20 and $3. Roman Approval, ridden by Robby Albarado at 117 pounds, was another half-length back in third and returned $2.60.
Tiz Town, 8-5 favorite Dynamic Sky and Wireless Future completed the order of finish. Aldous Snow was scratched.
LOUISVILLE HANDICAP QUOTES
FRANSISCO TORRES, jockey of BULLARDS ALLEY (winner): “It was a beautiful trip. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. He’s the kind of horse that stays and he won so easy. He was laying off of (Roman Approval) with his ears pricked and he was just loving it. It was a matter of winning it, and when I called on him, he responded. He’s the kind of horse that you have to stay after. If you let him relax and let him quit running underneath you he will, so we had to stay after him and we did today.”
NATALIE GLYSHAW, assistant trainer of BULLARDS ALLEY (winner): “This was our first graded stakes win. We were undecided. We were going to just run on the main track. He’s never won a race on the turf until today. He’s run some real big numbers. He ran a good race only beaten five lengths down at Sam Houston and he’s run third two times at Keeneland in some tough allowance races so we were just looking for the rain-off today. We were debating it until he got his Lasix shot if we were going to run or scratch and the owners wanted to take the chance. It was a small field and you don’t always get the chance to run against small fields on the turf, so we took the shot.”
MIKE MAKER, trainer of JOHNS KITTEN (runner-up) and ROMAN APPROVAL (third): “It didn’t look like Roman Approval got out of the gate. He likes to be forwardly placed and he wasn’t.”
JAMES GRAHAM, jockey on JOHNS KITTEN (runner-up): “I messed it up. I kind of got a little stuck turning for home. I should have wheeled him out and let him go on, but hindsight is 20-20. I thought the two horses in front of me would quicken, but they never did. They just sat there and it didn’t stop him (Johns Kitten), but he didn’t continue his run. He jumped across a set of heels and sprinted home when I got outside, but it was too late.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on ROMAN APPROVAL (third): “He didn’t break overly aggressive and I found myself behind a couple of horses. It can get pretty crowded in these small fields and I was kind of stuck behind them for a while. So I just waited on him and I had a chance turning for home, but it just wasn’t enough.”