Long shot Stately Victor wins Blue Grass Stakes

Earns Derby shot

Line of David takes Arkansas Derby

April 11, 2010|By From Sun news services

Stately Victor stunned the field Saturday at the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes in Lexington, Ky., surging to the front in the stretch then pulling away to beat Paddy O'Prado by 4 1/4 lengths and secure an unlikely spot in next month's Kentucky Derby.

The 3-year-old bay colt went off at 40-1, the longest shot in the nine-horse field filled with Derby hopefuls. He didn't look like an underdog as he recovered from a slow start to win the 1 1/8 -mile race at Keeneland and collect the $450,000 winner's check.

Stately Victor, a late add to the field for trainer Mike Maker, paid $82.20, $30.40 and $12.80, the largest winning payoff in the 86 editions of the Blue Grass.

Paddy O'Prado and jockey Kent Desormeaux appeared to have things under control before fading late. First Dude, with Ramon Dominguez up, was third.

The race on synthetic turf was supposed to be the last shot for prospects such as Interactif, Tampa Bay Derby winner Odysseus and Pleasant Prince to earn enough to ensure a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

While Interactif is almost guaranteed a spot in the Derby based on his graded stakes earnings, Odysseus and Pleasant Prince - seemingly locks a few weeks ago - will need a little help to run May 1.

Not Stately Victor, who is owned by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and his father. He came into the race with just one win in seven lifetime starts and had finished a distant sixth in his only start in a graded stakes race, the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall.

The Derby will be his fourth race on dirt. He was second in his first race at Saratoga last summer but managed just a seventh and a fifth in his last two dirt starts.

"Realistically, the synthetic and the turf haven't been his best either," Maker said with a laugh.

The horse wasn't even entered in the race until Wednesday morning, moments before the post draw. He started third from the rail and bumped into First Dude at the start. Jockey Alan Garcia and Stately Victor slogged their way through the opening half-mile and were sixth at the quarter pole.

Paddy O'Prado, who overtook front-running Odysseus at the turn, faltered in the stretch and was no match for Stately Victor's stunning run.

Stately Victor covered the distance in 1:48.69 and gave Kentucky a homegrown favorite to root for in the Derby.

Conway is running as a Democrat vying for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jim Bunning. Conway is a descendant of the first European settler in Kentucky, Dr. Thomas Walker, and grew up in the state. His campaign Web site says he can name every Kentucky Derby winner and its jockey.

"Derby Week just got a heck of a lot busier," Conway said.

The Derby field is limited to 20 starters, with preference given to those with the top graded stakes earnings if more than 20 are entered.

Arkansas Derby: Line of David won the $1 million Arkansas Derby by a neck Saturday in Hot Springs, propelling the 17-1 long shot into Kentucky Derby consideration.

Suddenly, trainer John Sadler has two Derby prospects, along with Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney's Candy.

It was the biggest victory of veteran jockey Jon Court's career.

Super Saver was second on Oaklawn Park's dirt, with Dublin third. Uh Oh Bango was fourth, followed by 8-5 favorite Noble's Promise, who finished out of the money for the first time in eight career starts.

Line of David, son of 2004 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.37 and paid $36.60, $14.80 and $6.80 to win the richest Kentucky Derby prep in the country.

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