Lightning does strike twice, at least for Gunpowder Farms' Divisidero. The 4-year-old Kitten's Joy colt captured his first graded stakes race on Derby Day in 2015 at odds of nearly 9-1, and repeated the performance with a gutsy 6-1 victory in Saturday's Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. The Buff Bradley trainee covered nine furlongs over the turf course, rated firm despite a brief downpour just before the race, in 1:47.37 under Edgar Prado, holding off World Approval by a neck.
“I love winning on Derby Day,” said Bradley. “He's a really special horse. We felt really confident coming into this race. We're realistic. We knew this was a good bunch of horses. He's a terrific horse and I think he's going to show what kind of horse he is this year. Edgar (Prado) thought he'd be closer. We felt he could lay a lot closer. Edgar thought there wasn't as much speed in here. We felt like when we got to this distance we'd let him run his race. Edgar did just a beautiful job. Edgar is our man. Once we get a jock who gets along with a horse and fits a horse, we stick with him.”
Divisdero broke alertly at the head of the lane, settled just off the leaders as the group passed under the wire for the first time. Midnight Storm wanted the early lead, laying out solid fractions of :23.09 and :46.32. Bolo rushed up, muscling his way between horses to force the issue after the first quarter mile despite Mike Smith's strong hold, followed by World Approval on the outside in third. Prado found Divisdero a perfect spot in seventh along the outside, avoiding traffic as the field wound it's way down the backstretch.
After three-quarters in 1:10.90, Midnight Storm began to weaken as World Approval closed the gap on him from third. Divisidero had begun to move as well as the race favorite, Big Blue Kitten, from the rear of the field. Entering the turn for home Divisidero was four-wide and moving well just as Midnight Storm dropped out of it, donating the lead to World Approval. Those two engaged in battle stride-for-stride down the stretch, with Divisidero and Prado just inches in front at the sixteenth pole. Crossing under the wire, Divisidero managed to extend his lead to a neck over World Approval, capturing his first Grade 1 event. Slumber snuck up the inside hedge to finish third, while Tourist was fourth.
“He broke sharply, better than he usually does,” said Prado. “He was also closer than usual but he was doing it so easy so I let him run. Then I took to the outside on the backstretch as that's where he prefers to be. And when I asked him for run, he responded nicely. It was very nice race for him.”
An incident on the far turn saw Kasagui fall, unseating rider Paco Lopez and causing the fall of Triple Threat and Jose Lezcano, who had been racing behind the pair. Both riders appeared to be uninjured, and both horses were escorted by their grooms back to the barns.
Bred in Kentucky by Hinkle Farms, Divisidero was a $250,000 purchase at the Keeneland September yearling sale. The colt has now boosted his career record to four wins from eight starts, with earnings of over $680,000.
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