After overcoming a troubled Sept. 14 trip that sent him from last to first in his debut at Churchill Downs, the 2-year-old son of Street Sense took much the same route to Grade 1 glory. Breaking slowly from the gate and racing in the back of the pack for much of the $500,000 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity, the colt sailed clear down the center of the stretch to win the Oct. 5 test by 5 ½ lengths at Keeneland.
"Speechless," said Godolphin president Jimmy Bell. "But thinking back on it, when you break your maiden first time out the way he did it—walking out of the gate, circling the field, taking all the dirt—he obviously got a lot of experience in that first race. I think he ran the same race again today. We thought, 'Don't worry he'll break a lot sharper today.' But he didn't get away all that well. I give a lot of credit to (jockey) Jose (Ortiz). He was very professional, very chilly, very patient and when you're on a good horse it's best to let him get in that rhythm and make sure you don't get stopped turning for home."
Trained by Brendan Walsh, Maxfield settled in the back early and made his move entering the home stretch, running down a hard-charging Gouverneur Morris before drawing off to win by daylight. Final time for the 1 1/16-mile dirt test was 1:44.21.
"He's a very nice horse and he's very smart," said Ortiz. "He broke slow first time, took dirt and came running at Churchill. Today, he did the same thing. Broke a bit slow, relaxed and when I asked him to go, he was there for me the whole time."
"Obviously, we'll see how he comes out of this, but if you don't bring him, who do you bring?" said Walsh. "We were looking at the horses coming up here earlier. It was a very nice looking bunch of horses. For him to do this in his second start, I'm normally pretty conservative with them and if it was going take him a couple of runs to break his maiden or even three runs, that was going to be fine with me. We haven't really turned the screws with this horse at all. He naturally does it. Good horses do that." —Meredith Daugherty
Bowies Hero Powers to Shadwell Turf Mile Victory
With a big purse, a Breeders' Cup bid, and an ideal distance on offer in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes Oct. 5 at Keeneland, a first-ever trip to Kentucky made sense to the connections of Bowies Hero.
With a powerful rally through the stretch to surge past a half dozen rivals to register a three-quarter-length victory, Bowies Hero backed up the confidence of his Southern California-based connections. As the race is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" to the TVG Mile, Bowies Hero earned a spot in that race, which will be contested in his backyard Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
"It's a million-dollar race and we have the horse—we've always had confidence in him," said Joshua Flores, assistant to winning trainer Phil D'Amato, on the decision to ship to Kentucky. "It's a Win and You're In, so we figured why not take a shot at it. Going in, it looked like a wide-open race. We knew that if we could just stay out of trouble, he'd have a chance."
Sent off at 8-1, Bowies Hero settled in eighth through a contested half-mile in :47.23 by Grade 3 winner Real Story, who was followed closely by Diamond Oops. Agave Racing Stable, ERJ Racing, and Madaket Stables' Bowies Hero and jockey Flavien Prat had only slightly improved their position when entering the lane, where he delivered a strong final run to surge past rivals, completing the mile in 1:34.2 on firm turf.
"I was able to put myself in the race, was able to tip him out around the turn, and get him ready to make his run. And then he got the job done," Prat said.
Diamond Oops was the only horse near the lead early to be near the lead late, finishing second. Longshot Suedois rallied from 11th early to finish third, a nose behind Diamond Oops and a nose ahead of fourth-place First Premio. It was another nose back to fifth-place March to the Arch, who finished a nose in front of sixth-place Next Shares, who won last year's Shadwell Turf Mile. —Frank Angst
Uni Wins First Lady Stakes in Course Record Time
Maybe it was a little hot, maybe the turf was a little firm. Regardless, Oct. 5 was not Rushing Fall's day.
Owner Bob Edwards of e Five Racing Thoroughbreds was left searching for excuses after the 6-5 favorite ran fourth in the $400,000 First Lady Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland—a race won in course-record time by her fellow Chad Brown trainee, Uni.
"It could have been a number of things," Edward said. "We'll probably regroup, talk to Chad, and come up with a plan. Maybe kick her down to Stonestreet and let her winter down there, fatten up and then come back and run her next year."
While Rushing Fall saw her 4-for-4 streak on the Keeneland turf course snapped by her stablemate, Uni shipped to Kentucky for the first time and emerged victorious by 2 ½ lengths ahead of Juliet Foxtrot and Vasilika. The race is a Breeders' Cup Challenge event for the Nov. 2 Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Uni sped a mile on a firm turf in 1:32.87, paying $8 as the second choice in a field of 13.
The 5-year-old daughter of More Than Ready is not Breeders' Cup nominated, and her connections—Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, Robert LaPenta, and Bethlehem Stables—would be required to pay $100,000 in order for the mare to join the Breeders' Cup program as a Horse of Racing Age. Once that amount is paid, Uni would benefit from the automatic fees-paid berth awarded through the Breeders' Cup Challenge for her First Lady score.
Brown called the 1 ¼-mile Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf "a possibility" for Uni after her performance, but on Saturday, the spotlight definitely belonged to the swift chestnut who captured her sixth career win at the mile distance and brought her lifetime record to nine wins, three seconds and three thirds from 17 career starts. —Claire Crosby
Spiced Perfection Flies Late to Land Thoroughbred Club of America
Spiced Perfection, making her first start since running fourth in the Humana Distaff Stakes on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs, overcame a stumble at the start to win the $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland. The 4-year-old California-bred filly earned a berth in the starting gate for the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita Park.
Spiced Perfection held off the late-running Dawn the Destroyer by a head in the six-furlong Thoroughbred Club of America, hitting the wire in 1:10.60 on a fast track. Mia Mischief was another 1 ½ lengths back in third. Chalon, the 2-1 favorite, was 1 ¾ lengths behind in fourth.
"She stumbled really bad coming out of the gate. She recovered pretty quick, and we kept tracking the speed," jockey Javier Castellano said. "We got through a little, tiny hole at the eighth pole. The filly was very brave to go through that hole and get it done." —Evan Hammonds
Stubbins Wins Woodford Stakes in Upset
Stubbins broke last of nine in the Woodford Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select at Keeneland Oct. 5, then came running outside the leaders in deep stretch to score his first victory since returning from Dubai.
The 3-year-old colt by Morning Line let the early speed go in the 5 1/2-furlong test. In the stretch, he found another gear and motored past Leinster in the final sixteenth to win by three-quarters of a length. The favorite, Imprimis, was third, another 1 1/2 lengths behind. The top three finishers had their previous race at Kentucky Downs.
Trained by Doug O'Neill and racing in the colors of McShane Racing, Stubbins was second, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, in the Sept. 12 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson Stakes. The Woodford was not a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In," but Stubbins is nominated to the program, and jockey Joel Rosario said the colt's performance could put him in the picture.
Imprimis' trainer, Joe Orseno, said the Breeders' Cup is the plan for his 5-year-old Broken Vow gelding. "If he's OK, then I think we should plan for it," he said. "He was running at the end." —Bob Kieckhefer