Trainer Brad Cox kicked off Kentucky Derby week in style when Klein Racing’s homebred Field Day rallied from last to win Saturday’s featured $150,000 William Walker Overnight Stakes on Opening Night of the 2021 Spring Meet before 11,505 fans at Churchill Downs.
Field Day, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, stumbled at the break and was in relegated to eighth up the backstretch behind a swift :22.51 early quarter-mile from pacesetter Bodenheimer. Gaffalione had Field Day positioned at the rail but switched to the three path to begin his charge at the leader. Around the far turn, following a half-mile fraction of :45.72, Gaffalione tipped Field Day to the outside and made a bold rally down the center of the track to get past Bodenheimer at the wire.
Field Day completed the 5 ½-furlong journey in 1:05.63 on the listed “good” Matt Winn Turf Course.
“We were a little worried leaving the starting gate when she stumbled,” said Cox, who is the trainer of early Derby favorite Essential Quality. “With only going a short distance, positioning is always key. She settled in nicely around the turn and was able to run down a rally game horse on the front end.”
Field Day, who was the 9-5 post time favorite, paid $5.60, $3.60 and $3.20. Bodenheimer, with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard, returned $7 and $3.80. Cees Get Degrees, at odds of 29-1, finished third under Colby Hernandez and paid $8.80.
Rockstar Ro, Into the Sunrise, Sasim, Unitedandresolute and Lookin for Loki completed the running order.
Field Day is a 3-year-old bay gelding by Broken Vow out of the Stormy Atlantic mare Sunny Isles.
Kentucky Derby Week continues Tuesday for live racing at 12:45 p.m. Tickets are available at www.churchilldowns.com/tickets.
WILLIAM WALKER QUOTES
Brad Cox, trainer of FIELD DAY (winner): “We were a little worried leaving the starting gate when she stumbled. With only going a short distance, positioning is always key. She settled in nicely around the turn and was able to run down a rally game horse on the front end. Tyler gave her a great ride and we’re really happy for Richard (Klein). It was good to kick off such a big week like that. We have a lot of excitement and anticipation around the barn and that was a good start to the week. Let’s keep it going.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey of BODENHEIMER (runner-up): “We won the battle but lost the war. He’s a fast horse and he set his own fractions and I thought he was going to be able to hold on with the rail being out. He’s a speedy horse so the plan was to go. He left on the button and that’s his thing.”