William and Corinne Heiligbrodt's Mitole earned his sixth consecutive victory by 3 1/2 lengths in Saturday's Grade 1 The Churchill Downs Stakes, sprinting seven furlongs over the fast main track in 1:21.21. The 4-year-old son of Eskendereya was sent off as the 2-1 favorite for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., who have already teamed up to win the G1 Humana Distaff with Mia Mischief on Kentucky Derby day, as well as Friday's G1 La Troienne with She's A Julie.
“(Trainer) Steve (Asmussen) has done a really amazing job with this horse,” said Santana. “He's a really special horse for me. Today we knew there was a lot of speed in the race and it set up perfectly for him.”
As expected, both Promises Fulfilled and Bobby's Wicked One were sharp out of the starting gate to dual through a first quarter in :22.38. Mitole kept close company just behind those two while three-wide, and Uncontested was just to his outside in fourth.
Rolling down the backstretch, Promises Fulfilled and Bobby's Wicked One traded punches on the lead to mark a half-mile in :44.71, but Mitole started ranging up on their outside on the turn for home.
Santana gave Mitole his cue at the top of the stretch and the colt responded beautifully, kicking away from his rivals to hit the wire 3 1/2 lengths the best. Bobby's Wicked One got the best of Promises Fulfilled for the place, and Do Share made up ground late to finish fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by Edward Cox, Mitole was a $140,000 juvenile purchase at the OBS April sale. The Churchill Downs is just his 10th lifetime start and already his seventh victory, though his first in a Grade 1 race. The win improves the colt's career earnings to $992,900.
“He's for real,” Asmussen said. “Everyone has always been beaming about his potential and he met his potential today and is now a Grade 1 winner. The horse has been capable of what he's done before. But you see his attitude, the way he moves, you love to see it come together. Ricardo's confidence in the horse, the way he rode him, he didn't panic. He wasn't on his normal (spot on the) lead but he was comfortable. Quick back in three weeks off a very fast race, he's a quality horse.
“Like I said all week, the only thing I was worried about was not running him when he was doing this good. Yes, I think we all know what would be next off what he did today (the Met Mile). As long as he's telling us he was as ready as he was today, we will gladly be there.”
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