Photos Courtesy of Jamie Linscott, Hoosier Park
Closer to his Kentucky base, Neck 'n Neck returned to his best form Oct. 6, rallying from 10th early to win the $513,600 Indiana Derby (gr. II) at Hoosier Park.
Trained by Ian Wilkes for owner/breeder A.Stevens Miles Jr., Neck ’n Neck put things together after the Triple Crown season when the Flower Alley colt posted a 6 1/2-length victory in an allowance race and a 7 1/4-length score in the Matt Winn Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
The late-developing 3-year-old then was shippped to Saratoga Race Course where he finished second to Alpha in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) before an off-the-board finish in the Travers Stakes (gr. 1).
In the Indiana Derby, Neck 'n Neck rated far back for jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. while 6-5 favorite Fed Biz dueled with 73-1 shot Junebugred through a half-mile in :48.32 and six furlongs in 1:12.70.
In early stretch, eight of the 11 three-year-olds were within two lengths of the lead. Neck ‘n Neck found another gear to rally seven wide for clear sailing on his way to a one-length victory over Super Derby (gr. II) winner Bourbon Courage, who also came on strongly in deep stretch. Favorite Fed Biz, trained by two-time Indiana Derby winner Bob Baffert, held third, a head behind the runner-up.
"We gave up some ground by racing on the outside," Wilkes said. "But it worked out because he was in the clear to make his rally."
Neck ’n Neck completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.71 on a good track. The first starter out of the winning Storm Boot mare Bootery, Neck ’n Neck has won 4 of 13 starts and has earned $609,776.
Wilkes said Neck 'n Neck will not be pointed to a Breeders' Cup race. He will meet with Miles and discuss plans for the Indiana Derby winner.
Finishing fourth was Morgan's Guerrilla, followed by Afford, Tritap, O'Prado Again, Easter Gift, Junebugred, Second City, and Stealcase.
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Winning connections celebrate the Indiana Derby victory.