Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimney Farm LLC’s King Fury proved he was much the best in the inaugural running of the $275,000 Bourbon Trail ® for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Churchill Downs as he widen his advantage without urging down the stretch en route to a 13-length romp over Bourbon Thunder.
Trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., King Fury covered the 1 3/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:56.01, just :04 off Idol’s 2020 track record of 1:55.97.
“He was really impressive today,” McPeek said. “We’re very proud of how he ran. He’s a really talented horse and showed that today.”
The field of seven sophomores was compact heading into the first turn as King’s Ovation emerged with a slight advantage over Dr. Jack through moderate early clips of :23.71 and :48.13. Heading onto the backstretch, King Fury was rated in sixth but was only a couple of lengths off the lead. After a half-mile, King Fury was advanced through a seam by Hernandez and drew within striking distance. Dr. Jack took over on the turn after six furlongs in 1:12.05 but King Fury loomed on the outside, took command leaving the final turn and powered home down the stretch as Hernandez sat still in the saddle except to throw a couple of crosses with the reins.
The victory was worth $166,710 and increased King Fury’s earnings to $579,449 with a record of 4-1-0 in 10 starts. Three of his wins have come at Churchill Downs, including a maiden win and stakes victory in the $98,000 Street Sense last year as a 2-year-old.
Previously, King Fury finished fifth of seven in the Grade I, $1.25 million Travers at Saratoga. Earlier this year, he won the $200,000 Lexington (GIII) at Keeneland and finished second to Masqueparade in the $500,000 Ohio Derby (GIII).
“With a horse like this, you just really have to stay out of their way,” Hernandez Jr. said. “He’s run in some tough races this year and today he was able to settle in nicely at the rail around the first turn and turning for home he got clear and was much the best.”
King Fury is a Kentucky-bred son of Curlin out of the Grade I-winning Flatter mare Taris and was bred by Heider Family Stables. Fern Circle Stables’ Paul Fireman paid $950,000 to acquire King Fury at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Yearling Sale.
King Fury returned $3, $2.60 and $2.10 as the odds-on 1-2 favorite. Bourbon Thunder, who rallied for second under Chris Landeros, returned $4.20 and $3.20 with Dr Jack finishing another 1 ¼ lengths back in third under Tyler Gaffalione and paying $3 to show.
It was another 3 ¼ lengths back to Sermononthemount, who was followed in order by King’s Ovation, Gagetown and Angkor.
The Bourbon Trail ® honors the profound history and proud tradition of “America’s Official Native Spirit” when the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) established the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® in 1999, a road trip-style experience for bourbon lovers to visit the Bluegrass State’s signature distilleries.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail ® and Bourbon Trail ® are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association used by Churchill Downs Inc. pursuant to license. The Kentucky Distillers’ Association and its member distilleries ask that you please enjoy Kentucky Bourbon responsibly.
BOURBON TRAIL QUOTES
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey of KING FURY (winner): “With a horse like this, you just really have to stay out of their way. He’s run in some tough races this year and today he was able to settle in nicely near the inside around the first turn and turning for home he got clear and was much the best.”
Greg Geier, assistant trainer of KING FURY (winner): “He was really impressive today. We’re very proud of how he ran. He’s a really talented horse and showed that today.”
Chris Landeros, jockey of BOURBON THUNDER (runner-up): “(King Fury) was much the best today. My horse ran well but he was just going to be second best to (King Fury).”