Grade I winner Arkow has aged well. The 7-year-old horse, who made his first start of the year, won Saturday’s 84th running of the $150,000 Louisville Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs by one length over Red Knight in 2:27.13 – a stakes record for the 1 ½-mile turf marathon.
Ridden by Florent Geroux, Arklow was rated in 10th during the early stages of the three-turn race as Admiralty Pier dictated the pace and led the field of 14 older horses through splits of :23.70, :48.64, 1:14.24 and 1:39.78. Nearing the final turn, Arklow made a bold four-wide move to draw into contention. He grabbed the lead at the head of the stretch and turned back the late threat from Ked Knight.
Brad Cox trained the winner for Jerry Crawford’s Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger and Lynn Coneway’s Estate of Peter Coneway.
The win was worth $84,630 and improved Arklow’s career earnings to $2,750,746 with a record of 9-7-2 in 32 starts. It was his sixth career graded stakes victory. He won the $200,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (GII) at Del Mar in his previous start on Nov. 27.
Arklow returned $4.60, $3.80 and $3 as the 4-5 betting choice. Red Knight, under James Graham, paid $7 and $5. Strong Tide, ridden by Marcelino Pedroza Jr., was another three-quarters of a length back in third and paid $8.60 to show. Ajourneytofreedom was another length back in fourth and was followed by Bakers Bay, Imperador (ARG), Fantasioso (ARG), Spooky Channel, Artemus Eagle, Jais’s Solitude, Crafty Daddy, Admiralty Pier, Fighting Seabee and Monarchs Glen (GB).
Arklow is a son of Arch out of the Empire Maker mare Unbridled Empire, was bred in Kentucky by John R. Penn and Frank Penn.
Racing at Churchill Downs continues Sunday with a nine-race card that begins at 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern).
Florent Geroux, jockey of ARKLOW (winner): “He’s such a warrior. He knows what he’s doing and such a professional. When he comes into the paddock every race he’s all business and shows a ton of versatility on the racetrack. I had him really relaxed and in a good spot early. With about five furlongs to go he started tugging hard and I had to go. I didn’t necessarily plan moving that early but he was ready to go. Brad and his team did a great job with him to get him ready to go this distance in his first start off the layoff. I’m very thankful to the owners as well for letting me get on him. He’s an incredible horse.”
Brad Cox, trainer of ARKLOW (winner): “He’s such a professional. We had this race in mind for a while to get his campaign started and he ran a great effort to start his year.”