Griffon Farms’ and trainer Michelle Lovell’s 6-year-old gelding Just Might led every step of the way and turned back a challenge at the top of the stretch from Charcoal to win Saturday’s sixth running of the $145,700 Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs by two lengths.
Taken off the turf and run on the main dirt track, Just Might ran five furlongs in :56.74 under Rafael Bejarano to collect his eighth career stakes win – five on dirt and three on turf – and second consecutive running of the Mighty Beau.
“He handed things well today on the dirt,” Bejarano said. “He’s fast and showed that speed out of the gate like he typically does. He handled the pressure well around the turn and was strong going to the wire.”
Sent to post as the odds-on 2-5 favorite, Just Might paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Charcoal, under Joe Talamo, returned $6 and $3.60. Baytown Bear was another 1 ¾ lengths back in third under Odhair Mayta and paid $4 to show.
Johnny Unleashed, Oceanic and Major Wager completed the order of finish. Carotari, Smokin’ Jay and Creative Credit were scratched.
Just Might, who went gate to wire from the rail through early fractions of :22.02 and :44.43, earned $97,311 for the win and improved his career record to 11-8-6 in 37 starts with earnings just shy of millionaire status at $958,100.
Just Might, a son of Justin Phillip out of the Dynameaux mare Dynamite Babe, was bred in Griffon Farms’ Robert Griffon and Lovell.
“He’s such a special horse to us being a homebred,” Lovell said. “We’ve watched him grow up and he’s shown how talented he is on the track. When the race got taken off the turf this morning I wasn’t concerned because of his previous dirt form. I think he can run on either surface.”
The Mighty Beau is named in honor of graded stakes winner Mighty Beau, who boasted a record of 75-12-19-10—$646,000 from 2001-08. The Oklahoma-bred gelded son of Rainbow Prospect made a record five starts in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (then known as the Aegon Turf Sprint) from 2002-06, winning the race in 2005 at age 6 for owners Mike Cloonan and Anthony Carolan, trainer Jeff Mullins and jockey Pat Valenzuela.
Racing at Churchill Downs continues Sunday with a nine-race program that begins at 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern). There is a $6,043 jackpot carryover in the 20-cent Derby City 6, which covers Races 4-9. There will be a mandatory payout of the jackpot on Sunday, which doubles as Military Appreciation Day. There are two stakes events: the $160,000 Leslie’s Lady Overnight Stakes and $225,000 Matt Winn (Grade III). There also is an $18,236 carryover in the $1 Super Hi 5, which will be held in the finale.
MIGHTY BEAU QUOTES
Rafael Bejarano (jockey, Just Might, winner) – “He handed things well today on the dirt. He’s fast and showed that speed out of the gate like he typically does. He handled the pressure well around the turn and was strong going to the wire.”
Michelle Lovell (trainer, Just Might, winner) – “He’s such a special horse to us being a homebred. We’ve watched him grow up and he’s shown how talented he is on the track. When the race got taken off the turf this morning I wasn’t concerned because of his previous dirt form. I think he can run on either surface.”