Shining Copper led every step of the way under leading rider Corey Lanerie to score a 1 ¾-length victory over Kasaqui (Arg) in Thursday’s 40th running of the $100,000 River City Handicap (GIII) on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs.
Shining Copper, owned Ken and Sarah Ramsey, ran 1 1/8 miles over “yielding” turf in 1:52.78. In doing so, Mike Maker landed the 1,997th win of his training career.
Breaking from post 4 in the field of 13 3-year-olds and up, Shining Copper broke on top and dictated the terms through fractions of :24.28, :48.77 and 1:14.24 with Thatcher Street tracking in second and never within a length of the leader. Shining Copper inched away down the backstretch, repelled bids at the top of the lane and held sway in the final stages for the first graded stakes win of his 31-race career.
“We knew going in his style of running and once we broke well from the gate he never looked back,” Lanerie said. “I asked him a bit to go at the three-eighths pole and he responded when horses got close to him. It was a great job by Mike and his team to get him ready.”
The victory was worth $57,040 and increased the Kentucky-bred’s earnings to $697,169. He boasts a record of 8-4-7 in 31 starts. In February of 2016, Shining Copper came within a neck of becoming a Grade I winner when he was second to Lukes Alley in the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (GI).
“He got pretty sick at the end of the Saratoga meet last year,” Maker said. “He was off for nearly a year but has come back and done well with everything we’ve asked of him. His best way of going is on the front end and he got a perfect setup today.”
Shining Copper, who carried the 119-pound starting high weight on Thursday, returned mutuels of $10.40, $6 and $4 as the 4-1 second betting choice.
Kasaqui, making the final start of his career, prevailed in a four-horse photo for the minors and finished a head in front of Revved Up. Defending champ Thatcher Street was another nose back in fourth with Team Colors an additional head back in fifth.
Kasaqui, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. at 117 pounds, returned $9.20 and $6.40. Third-place finisher Revved Up under Robby Albarado and 117 pounds paid $3.60 to show.
After Thatcher Street and Team Colors, the order of finish was completed by Christian C, Some in Tieme (Brz), 3-1 favorite War Correspondent, Vettori Kin (Brz), Applicator, Shotgun Kowboy, Coco Mon and Zulu Alpha. Turf Titan and Gostibehere were scratched.
At age 7, Shining Copper joined Same Old Wish (1997) and Blues Street (2011) as the oldest winners of the River City.
RIVER CITY QUOTES
COREY LANERIE, jockey of SHINING COPPER (winner): “We knew going in his style of running and once we broke well from the gate he never looked back. I asked him a bit to go at the three-eighths pole and he responded when horses got close to him. It was a great job by Mike and his team to get him ready.”
MIKE MAKER, trainer of SHINING COPPER (winner): “He got pretty sick at the end of the Saratoga meet last year. He was off for nearly a year but has come back and done well with everything we’ve asked of him. His best way of going is on the front end and he got a perfect setup today.”
IGNACIO CORREAS IV, trainer of KASAQUII (ARG) (runner-up): “He retired in style. We are so proud of him and so happy that he finished in that manner. That’s the manner that he deserved to go out in, so we are happy.”
RICARDO SANTANA JR., jockey on KASAQUI (ARG) (runner-up): “He tried hard today. We got a perfect trip and saved ground, and turning for home I took him out and gave me a little kick. He was just second-best.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, rider on REVVED UP (third): “I kind of had to make a longer run around the outside. With the temporary rail up it makes you really wide and I couldn’t take a chance of getting him stopped. He’s a big horse and you’ve got to keep moving. So I had to go wide and it maybe cost me some position there. It may have cost him second, but you never know.”