By Josh Cook
Lou Brissie held off hard-charging Boys At Tosconova to win the 22nd running of the $110,300 Grade III Kentucky Juvenile by 1 1/2 lengths in Friday's seventh race at Churchill Downs.
Lou Brissie, trained by Neil Howard and ridden by John Velazquez, surged past race-favorite Twelve Pack Shelly inside the eighth pole then staved off Boys to win the first graded stakes race of 2010 for 2-year-olds in North America.
"Nothing bothers him, it's unbelievable," Velazquez said. "I broke out of there. I didn't want to be too far back and have too much dirt hitting him and get (him) discouraged. Once I got him in the clear and the five-sixteenths pole, he got into a good rhythm and I just kept him there. Down the lane I just had to keep his mind on running. The way his personality is, in the future going longer will be better."
Nina Fever came out of the gate first, but Twelve Pack Shelly and Harry Vega quickly took the lead through the first quarter mile in 21.92 seconds. Making the turn for the finish line Twelve Pack Shelly held Wetzel at bay before Lou Brissie surged into the lead. He covered the five furlongs in 57.80.
It was Howard's third victory in the Kentucky Juvenile after Island Escape in 1988 and Summer Squall in 1989.
Lou Brissie, like Summer Squall was, is also owned by Dogwood Stable.
"That's what they do at Dogwood, they spend the time with them," Howard said. "He acts so much more mature than what he is. He's a very mature acting kind of horse. When he ran the first time he really surprised me. He trained okay and he was ready to run, but I didn't think he would do that. He was so reserved. he broke a lot better today."
Lou Brissie returned $9.40, $4.80 and $2.80. Boys At Toscanova, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, returned $7.20 and $3 and finished a neck in front of Twelve Pack Shelly, who paid $2.40 to show.
"He can an excellent race," Desormeaux said. "A little immature with the sand in his face. I think today was a great experience and he'll be a force to be reckoned with in the future."
Lou Brissie, a Kentucky-bred son of Limehouse out of the Forest Wildcat mare Fearless Wildcat, now has two victories in two starts and his victory of $68,386 improved his lifetime earnings to $98,386.