2023 Kentucky Derby Hopeful Snapshots: Two Phil’s
Ed and Susie Orr’s Silver Prospector was between horses in deep stretch Nov. 30 but maintained a long rally to take the $300,000, Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.
The victory gave trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. a sweep of Saturday’s stakes after their score in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes with Finite.
Saturday was billed as the second “Stars of Tomorrow” card at Churchill Downs with a focus on 2-year-olds, and Silver Prospector also appeared on the first “Stars of Tomorrow” program Oct. 27. That day, the Declaration of War colt led most of the Street Sense Stakes and faded late to finish third — beaten by 1 1/2 lengths — while Finite was a six-length winner of the Rags to Riches Stakes.
“I think our 2-year-old program in Kentucky has proven to be very strong,” Asmussen said. “I am sure the purses have a lot to do with that, but I think [it was] a very big advantage for Finite and Silver Prospector to have prepped in the Rags to Riches and the Street Sense over this racetrack. Loved how they trained between the races. Very proud of how hard [Silver Prospector] fought just to win today.”
Silver Prospector came from farther back in the Kentucky Jockey Club. He was fifth early, fell to sixth, and regained position in fifth as longshot New Eagle led through quarter-mile fractions of :24.39, :49.92, and 1:14.83.
Tiz the Law, winner of the Oct. 5 Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park and the 3-5 favorite, was pocketed in midpack under jockey Manny Franco.
Santana made a bid on Silver Prospector, the 7-1 third choice, from the outside and found plenty of running room while Tiz the Law needed space between horses. New Eagle dropped out of contention as Silver Prospector pulled ahead of Tiz the Law, while 87-1 shot Finnick the Fierce came charging on the outside to approach Silver Prospector late.
Silver Prospector held steady and crossed the finish line three-quarters of a length in front. He completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.94 on a sloppy (sealed) track.
“He’s a really nice horse. I’ve had a lot of confidence in him since I rode him first time out,” Santana said. “Today he was really relaxed first time two turns on dirt. He’d run two turns on turf — it’s not the same. He relaxed really well. I put him outside the horses and he relaxed really well. At the three-eighths, I asked him to run and he gave me a nice finish, and that got me past the wire first.”
Finnick the Fierce nabbed second, a head in front of Tiz the Law in third.
“He handled the mud OK, but I never was able to get him out of that spot on the rail,” Franco said. “He felt good the entire way, but he got a little too far behind horses and we never got through.”
Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Tiz the Law’s owner, Sackatoga Stable, added: “Well, it’s disappointing it’s not our day today. We sent him down here to get a run over the track, and we got into some trouble in the race. Hopefully, we can move forward out of this and we’ll figure out a plan for what can be next.”
The Kentucky Jockey Club awarded points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the first four finishers toward a start in the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. Tiz the Law, who scored Derby points with a victory in the Champagne, has a total of 12.
Silver Prospector’s score gave his sire his 25th black-type stakes winner. Declaration of War has stood in Ireland, Australia, Kentucky, and Japan since beginning his stud career in 2014.
Sandra and Hargus Sexton, along with Silver Fern Farm, bred Silver Prospector in Kentucky. The gray or roan colt is out of Tap Softly, a multiple stakes-placed daughter of Tapit.
The Orrs purchased Silver Prospector for $190,000 from the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Silver Prospector made his first three starts on turf before switching to dirt Oct. 13 at Keeneland, where he won a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight by two lengths. He stretched out to a mile two weeks later for the Street Sense, and the Kentucky Jockey Club marked his second race around two turns, the first time resulting in a third-place finish on the turf at Saratoga Race Course.
“In the Street Sense, we brought him back pretty short from the race before,” Ed Orr said. “I think that showed a little bit. The extra time off certainly helped [in the Kentucky Jockey Club]. He looks better than he did then. He’s improved a lot, and I think the trainers have done a great job with him.”