By Josh Cook
General Quarters out-dueled favored Court Vision to win the 24th running of the $578,100 Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic by a neck in the 10th race Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
Rafael Bejarano rallied the horse, who was 10th in the Kentucky Derby last year, past Court Vision in the mid-stretch. Running on the inside, General Quarters overtook Court Vision at the sixteenth pole and held on, covering the 1 1/8 miles in 1 minute, 53.42 seconds on the "yielding" Matt Winn Turf Course.
"I'll tell you that the excitement and the thrill (from last year's Derby) is still there," General Quarters owner-trainer Tom McCarthy said. "When he sets his mind down he goes. I knew when I was watching him coming around the turn that he liked the turf. He didn't quit at all. He just kept on going...I'll tell you what, that was a heck of a ride by Rafael He did just what we said, give him a breather, come on and that's exactly what he did."
Wise River led the nine-horse field through fractions of 25.13, 50.95 and 1:15.87 with General Quarters about four lengths back. But coming off the final turn Al Khali went after Wise River with General Quarters going three wide and Court Vision going four wide. Court Vision grabbed the lead briefly before General Quarters passed him.
"I am very happy," Bejarano said. "These are very decent horses. I galloped him yesterday and he worked good. He was good and ready for today."
General Quarters paid $19.60, $8.40 and $5.20 with his fourth victory in 18 career starts. The win helped the horse reach millionaire status with his $344,085 payday that improved his career earnings to $1,090,620.
Court Vision paid $4.40 and $3.20.
"I had a good trip, just got outrun by a better horse today," jockey Robby Albarado said. "I worked General Quarters on the turf the other day for Mr. McCarthy and told Tom he'd do well on the turf. That's how this game goes sometimes. But it's great for Tom. He's done a great job with this horse."
"He ran his race, he ran big but he simply got outrun," Court Vision trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. added.
Loup Breton, with Garrett Gomez aboard, paid $3.40 to show.