A pair of 7-year-olds finished on top in Saturday evening's G2 Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs, with the Argentine-bred Kasaqui out-finishing frontrunning Chocolate Ride by about three lengths at the wire. Owned by Diane Perkins' Wimborne Farm, the intact son of Lasting Approval was ridden from off the pace by James Graham to be four-wide on the far turn, but stormed home down the stretch to stop the clock in 1:40.26 for 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf. Trained by Ignacio Correas, Kasaqui's win in the Wise Dan was his first in 2017.
“I'm so happy of our entire stable,” Correas said. “This was a great win and I'm very proud of my horse.”
After a fairly even beginning in the eight-horse field, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan hustled Chocolate Ride to the lead and took command by a length heading into the first turn. Tracked by Security Risk and a three-wide Bondurant, Chocolate Ride set fractions of :23.81 and :47.25. Kasaqui was all alone in sixth in the early going, unhindered by rivals while nearly seven lengths off the pace.
Approaching the far turn Bondurant began to make his move on the leading Chocolate Ride as Thatcher Street threatened at the rail, but it was the grey Kasaqui on the far outside with a sweeping turn of foot to challenge the frontrunner at the head of the stretch. Chocolate Ride battled back gamely, but it was Kasaqui's day as Graham hand-rode him out to the wire, winning by nearly three lengths in the end. Chocolate Ride was far from disgraced in second, with Conquest Panthera up late for fourth. Bondurant had to settle for fourth.
“He broke sharp, settled back and came absolutely sprinting home at the end,” Graham Motion. “I wish all of my races were this simple. Once I got him in the clear, he had his mind on winning. He ran a great race and I'm so proud of him.”
Bred in Argentina by San Francisco de Pilar, Kasaqui made a slow start in his home country but has improved markedly with age. His first graded victory came in the G3 Arlington Handicap in 2016, which the horse then followed with a bang-up second in the G1 Arlington Million. Kasaqui regularly finds a check in graded company for his owners, but the Wise Dan is his first Grade 2 victory. Overall, his record stands at six wins, 10 seconds and a third from 25 starts, with earnings of over $650,000.
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