Mark Bacon and Dana Wells' Silver Max turned back the challenge of 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan at the top of the stretch to win the 28th running of the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) by 1 ¼ lengths.
Because of heavy rain earlier in the afternoon, the race was taken off the turf course and run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. More than 1½ inches of rain fell in the Keeneland area in a two-hour span after the storms began after 4 p.m.
Silver Max is trained by Dale Romans and was ridden by Robby Albarado. It was the second Shadwell Turf Mile victory for Romans, who won the race in 2008 with Thorn Song. Albarado earned his fourth victory in the race with his other scores coming on Nothing to Lose in 2004, Thorn Song and Court Vision in 2009.
The victory secured a berth for Silver Max to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) to be held Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Albarado put Silver Max on the lead out of the gate and moved toward the rail from the No. 9 post position while Wise Dan was floated wide in the first turn. Silver Max carved out a first quarter-mile in :23.79 and the first half in :46.73 while running unopposed on the lead.
Meanwhile, John Velazquez had Wise Dan in the clear on the far outside and moved into second as the field approached the far turn. Wise Dan moved to within a length of the leader approaching the top of the stretch but could get no closer as Silver Max completed the distance in 1:42.06.
The victory was worth $450,000 and raised Silver Max's career earnings to $1,658,403 with a record of 22-11-5-1. Silver Max is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Badge of Silver out of the Kissin Kris mare Kissin Rene.
Silver Max returned $17, $4.40 and $4. Wise Dan returned $2.60 and $2.10 and finished 3 ½ lengths in front of Willcox Inn, who returned $4.80 to show under James Graham.
Winning Prize finished a neck back in fourth and was followed in order by Coalport, Skyring, Summer Front, Hogy, Turallure and Handsome Mike.
Saturday's attendance was 27,849.
“We want to thank all the fans who, despite the inclement weather stayed, throughout the afternoon and enjoyed some spectacular racing,” said Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason.
See the full chart here.
$750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1)
Dale Romans (winning trainer of Silver Max)
On Silver Max's improved form in the past year
“He had management issues. I threw him to the wolves probably a little quicker than I should have, but we backed up and regrouped and he's strong this fall. We had a tired horse last fall – this fall we're just peaking.”
Robby Albarado (winning rider)
“He's got such a high cruising speed. Dale said, ‘Take it to them right away and let them catch you.' He's doing so well. The horse has been training forwardly – the best he's been doing since he started with him. Dale prepared him well this year with stretching his races out. He's a fresh horse.”
John Velazquez (rider of runner-up, 1-2 favorite and reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan)
“He ran a good race; he just didn't run his A game today. First time running on the Polytrack and it's really wet and it seemed like he was tiring from it today. He couldn't seem to get his (footing). After that he kept trying. At the three-eighths pole, I thought I was going to be in control, that (running down Silver Max) was going to be easy, but when I went after him, he (Silver Max) started running again. It was only a matter of time whether (Wise Dan) would handle the track. He handled the track OK, but the track is different today — a lot of water. He had to work harder. Other than that he kept trying and ran hard.”
Charlie LoPresti (trainer of Wise Dan)
“He was running hard and in his stalking position like he should be. Johnny said when he came out of the turn, that is where he usually drags him and takes it to him and I can tell inside the eighth pole that he was riding him and (Silver Max) just kept going. We weren't backing up any but we weren't gaining that ground.”
On whether the change in distance – from one mile on turf to 1 1/16 miles on the main track – made a difference
“No because he broke the track record here going a mile and an eighth. Maybe with the water on it, it was more sticky. That's what it looks like to me but I am not going to make any excuses. He ran a great race; he really did.”
“Johnny said (Silver Max) won fair and square – he just got loose on the front end.”
James Graham (rider of third-place finisher Willcox Inn)
“Great trip, saved all the ground, ran third. If (the race) had been on the grass and the grass was firm, I think he probably would have run in the same spot, but he ran his rear end off on it. He quickens better on the grass. His turn of foot is a little better on the grass.”
Garrett Gomez (rider of fourth-place finisher Winning Prize)
“We just didn't want to get hooked in a speed duel. He's never really been behind horses. He's always been in the clear so he was a little confused about what I wanted from him. Even so, he still ran good. A couple of times during the race I thought he was completely done because he was so confused he didn't know what I was asking of him. It was a learning experience. I think if circumstances had been a little different he would have run a little better.”
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