Volatile stamped himself as one of America’s top sprinters while clocking six furlongs in 1:07.57 – just two one-hundredths of a second off the 13-year-old track record – with an eight-length demolition job over Honest Mischief in Saturday’s 32nd running of the $100,000 Aristides presented by Woodford Reserve (Listed) at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Volatile tracked early pacesetter Bobby’s Wicked One from third on the outside in the compact field of six older horses. After a quarter-mile in :21.48, Seven Nation Army grabbed a short-lived lead around the turn while clocking the half-mile in :44.36. Volatile loomed boldly at the top of the stretch and when Santana dropped his hands and slipped the 4-year-old colt some reigns, he took off quickly with an explosive turn of foot and drew off under a hand ride to the wire.
Volatile eclipsed Kelly’s Landing’s 2005 stakes record of 1:07.59 but just missed Indian Chant’s track record of 1:07.55 set on July 8, 2007.
“This horse has incredible talent,” Santana said. “To go that fast as he did today shows he is extremely talented. He did that so easily.”
The victory put Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen one win back of Dale Romans, 737 wins to 736, for the all-time win milestone by a trainer at Churchill Downs. It was Asmussen’s record fourth Aristides win after previously landing victories with Mountain General (2003), Riley Tucker (2010) and Rothko (2012).
“He is a tremendous talent,” Asmussen said. “His family means a lot to me with his second dam Lady Tak, who we trained and won the Test. We’re hoping this horse shows the same kind of affinity toward races like that as she did. It wasn’t a graded stakes but it was still a stakes win.”
Volatile earned $61,380 for his owners Phoenix Thoroughbreds III Ltd. (Aamer Abdulaziz Ahmed) and Three Chimneys Farm LLC (Goncalo Torrealba). He improved his record to four wins in five starts with earnings of $203,540. His previous victory was a 7 ½-length romp in a six-furlong allowance affair at Oaklawn Park on April 24.
Volatile paid $3, $2.40 and $2.10 as the odds-on 3-2 favorite.
Honest Mischief, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, paid $3.60 and $2.40. Manny Wah closed to finish three-quarters of a length back of the runner-up under Corey Lanerie and paid $2.60 to show. Seven Nation Army, Heartwood and Bobby’s Wicked One completed the order of finish.
Volatile is a gray or roan son of Violence of out the Unbridled’s Song mare Melody Lady. He was bred in Kentucky by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings Inc. and Stretch Run Ventures LLC.
The Aristides is named in honor of the inaugural Kentucky Derby winner of 1875.
Ricardo Santana Jr., jockey of VOLATILE (winner): “This horse has incredible talent. To go that fast as he did today shows he is extremely talented. He did that so easily.”
Steve Asmussen, trainer of VOLATILE (winner): “He is a tremendous talent. His family means a lot to me with his second dam Lady Tak, who we trained won the Test. We’re hoping this horse shows the same kind of affinity toward races like that as she did. It wasn’t a graded stakes but it was still a stakes win.”
Whit Beckman, assistant trainer of HONEST MISCHIEF (runner-up): “We just got beat today. (Honest Mischief) ran a really good race but I don’t think anyone was beating the winner.”