Kelly’s Landing, with Gary Stevens aboard, broke a Churchill Downs track record established by Breeders’ Cup champion Kona Gold as he scored a 1 ?-length victory over favored Battle Won to take the $162,450 Grade III Aristides Breeders’ Cup Handicap for 3-year-olds and up.
The winner, the longest shot in a field of six, covered six furlongs over a “fast” track in 1:07.59, which bested the previous mark of 1:07.77 set by Kona Gold in winning the $1 million, Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2000. That performance capped a year in which Kona Gold was honored as America’s champion sprinter.
The victory was the third in seven starts this season for Kelly’s Landing, who made a successful stakes debut and paid $25.80, $6.40 and $4.60. Battle Won, the even money favorite ridden by Mike Smith, was second almost the entire race and returned $3.00 and $2.80. Jet Prospector was another 1 ? lengths back under Robby Albarado and paid $3.20.
A four-year-old son of Patton, Kelly’s Landing is owned by John Lally’s Summerplace Farm, LLC and earned the winner’s share of $100,719 to shoot his career winnings to $220560. He has won five of nine career starts for trainer Eddie Kenneally and the Aristides Breeders’ Cup was his second win in three races at Churchill Downs.
Jet Prospector gained the lead soon after the start and set a rapid pace with 21.01 for the quarter and 43.83 for the half mile. Stevens had Kelly’s Landing tucked in behind the leaders in fourth at the quarter and began to make his winning move in the turn. Jet Prospector held a slight half-length lead in the turn as Battle Won stalked in second. As the field straightened into the stretch, Stevens moved Kelly’s Landing to the inside, snuck past the leaders along the rail and quickly opened up for the winning margin.
“He’s the kind of horse that might step up and improve again,” said Stevens, who was riding Kelly’s Landing for the first time. “He broke real relaxed and was able to stay in striking distance without me using him. He just took me around the turn at his will.”
Smith, who had Battle Won on the outside of pacesetter Jet Prospector when Stevens moved to the rail with Kelly’s Landing, said the beaten favorite could not respond to the winner’s move.
“My horse didn’t see him until it was too late,” said Smith. “Sometimes horses like to fight other ones. Maybe if we could have come up together, we could have went with him.”
The stakes win was the fourth of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet for Stevens, who recently purchased a home in Louisville after moving from his former home base of Southern California. Stevens won the opening day Derby Trial and followed with a stakes double last week/files/storyimages/with victories in the Regret and Northern Dancer.
ARISTIDES BREEDERS’ CUP (GIII)
GARY STEVENS, jockey on KELLY’S LANDING (Winner)
“It was a great training job (by Eddie Kenneally). Eddie made it very simple for me. It’s the first horse I’ve rode for Eddie, but you could tell immediately when you’re talking to a horseman. He didn’t tell me how to ride the horse - he told me about the horse. He said he likes to make one late run and he did that successfully. He just flew home.”
“He’s the kind of horse that might step up and improve again. He was real playful and then he got settled and got real focused when we got close to the gate. He broke real relaxed and was able to stay in striking distance without me using him. He just took me around the turn at his will.”
“He was able to stay in striking distance at a high lope - that’s what I was lovin’.”
EDDIE KENNEALLY, trainer of KELLY’S LANDING (WINNER)
“He was stepping up in company, and he had never run in a stakes before. Most of those other horses had already run in graded stakes. We were looking for an allowance race for him to run in and there wasn’t any so we opted for the stakes. We wanted to run at Churchill his home racetrack. So the option was the stakes and we went ahead and did that.”
“ There was no pressure going in the stakes. We just gave it a shot; we knew we were running against some accomplished horses. I knew he was doing well (in training) but I didn’t know if he was good enough to beat these graded stakes horses, but evidently he is.”
“Too bad there’s not many races left at Churchill Downs. The meet’s coming to a close, and he likes this track and he’s on the improve right now. We’ll pick out a sprint somewhere down the road just pick a spot, we don’t know where just yet. Gary Stevens was very impressed (with the track record) because Churchill Downs is a place where you don’t break track records very often. A lot of these records have been existing for a long time. It’s very seldom that we see someone break a record here. Gary was very impressed with what he did today.”
CHARLES SIMON, trainer of BATTLE WON (runner-up)
“He gave it a shot. It’s hard to shade 1:08 and still lose.”
MIKE SMITH, jockey on BATTLE WON (runner-up)
Did you think around the turn that they were going to come back to you?
“I knew the two (Jet Prospector) was starting to. Robby had already nudged on him and he didn’t get away from me. Then I saw Gary (on Kelly’s Landing) down there and I had to try and move, but my horse didn’t see him until it was too late. Sometimes horses like to fight other ones. Maybe if we could have come up together, we could have went with him.”
STEVE MARGOLIS, trainer of JET PROSPECTOR (third)
“He got a piece of the pie and that’s good. We’ll probably freshen him up and wait until Saratoga and point for something up there. It was a big step up for him today, for sure. There were some nice horses in there.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on JET PROSPECTOR (third)
“He ran real well. He had to raise the bar today and I thought he did. He ran well. He jumped out there with his patented run on the front, just like usual. They ran by him awfully quick. The winner ran awesome - a track record.”
|Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame Celebrates 50 Years|
|Fort Larned wins Stephen Foster in impressive fashion|
|Downs After Dark returns to Churchill Downs for action-packed Saturday night|
|Successful Dan headlines Stephen Foster field|
|Palace Malice upsets Derby and Preakness winners in Belmont triumph|
|Derby and Preakness winners pair off in Belmont Stakes|
|Oxbow upset winner in the Preakness Stakes|