Calumet Farm’s 4-year-old homebred colt Lexitonian repelled a challenge by 8-5 favorite and Grade I winner Hog Creek Hustle in deep stretch to win Friday’s $85,541 feature at Churchill Downs by three-quarters of length.
Trained by Jack Sisterson and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Lexitonian ran seven furlongs in 1:22.29 over a fast track in rainy conditions to collect his fourth win in 12 career starts. He paid $25.80 to win at odds of 11-1 and the $48,868 winner’s share of the purse boosted his career earnings to $306,882.
“He ran a huge race,” Gaffalione said. “When he felt the horses coming up from behind him he dug in and really finished strong down the lane.”
Rare Form and Absolutely Aiden led the way in the class-laden field of 12 older horses through early quarter-mile splits of :22.28 and :44.73 with Lexitonian chasing just behind while in the clear from third. Absolutely Aiden poked his head in front around the turn but was quickly met by Lexitonian off the turn.
Hog Creek Hustle, winner of the $400,000 Woody Stephens (GI) on the Belmont Stakes undercard last year, was unhurried early and commenced a wide late charge in the stretch but it was too late to catch Lexitonian, who inched clear and held sway for the victory.
“We really thought he was a winner turning for him,” said Hog Creek Hustle’s trainer Vickie Foley. “He ran a solid race; we just got beat.”
Hog Creek Hustle was two lengths clear of third place finisher Absolutely Aiden and was followed by Home Base, Bourbon Calling, Troubling Moon, Early Mischief, Minecraft Maniac, K J’s Nobility, Rare Form, Boldor and Borracho.
Lexitonian, a son of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) winner Speightstown, won two stakes last year as a 3-year-old – the $200,000 Chick Lang (GIII) on the Preakness undercard and $75,000 Concern at Laurel – and finished third against elders behind Engage and Whitmore in the $250,000 Phoenix (GII) at Keeneland.
Betting at Churchill Downs on Friday’s nine-race card totaled $7,685,817.
Racing returns Saturday with an 11-race card topped by two stakes – the $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII) and $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep (GIII) – and a competitive Late Pick 5 (Races 7-11) with a guaranteed pool of $500,000.
The Saturday action from Churchill Downs will air on FS2 from 1-2:30 p.m. and FS1 from 2:30-6:30 p.m. as part of FOX Sports’ “America’s Day at the Races” coverage. It also will be broadcast on FOX Sports Ohio from 3-6:30 p.m.