R.A. Hill Stable and BlackRidge Stables' The Money Monster surged to the lead at the sixteenth pole and drew off for a 1 ½-length victory in the third running of the $100,000 William Walker for 3-year-olds Saturday before an Opening Night presented by Stella Artois and Old Forester crowd of 20,949.
Earlier on the program, Finley'sluckycharm led all the way to win the eighth running of the $65,000 Roxelana for fillies and mares.
Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Jose Lezcano, The Money Monster covered the six furlongs over a fast track in 1:10.70. For Mott, it was his record-extending 698th victory at Churchill Downs and 92nd stakes victory.
Classic Cotton set the pace with The Money Monster rating in fourth in the run down the backside. On the far turn, Lezcano moved four wide to rocket into contention and gradually wore down the leader.
The victory was worth $60,760 for The Money Monster, who improved his earnings to $108,760 with a record of 4-3-0-0. The Money Monster is a Kentucky-bred son of Majestic Warrior out of the Awesome Again mare Awesomekaylee.
The Money Monster returned $17, $7.60 and $6.20. En Hanse, ridden by Julien Leparoux, was moved up to second on the disqualification of Classic Cotton and returned $9.80 and $7.20 with Conquest Wildcat being placed third under Corey Lanerie and returning $4 to show.
Favored Syndergaard was elevated to fourth with Classic Cotton demoted to fifth and followed by Silver Bullion and Capture the Glory.
Jose Lezcano (Jockey, The Money Monster, winner) – “He broke good. I got him in the clear on the outside. When I got him clear he felt very comfortable. When I asked he responded. He finished well.”
Bill Mott (Trainer, The Money Monster, winner) – “We only had the horse a couple of weeks before his last start. He's real laid back and if you don't continue to ride him, he will just pull himself up. I have never had a horse want to continue to pull himself up out of a race. Jose (Lezcano) was a perfect fit tonight. He did what we asked him to do and got the job done.”
Todd Pletcher (Trainer, Syndergaard, beaten favorite) – “(Jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) said it all went upside down on him from the start. He hopped at the break then went sideways. After that he had a horse drop down in front of him. But mostly he labored with the track.. Johnny said he never got comfortable at all out there.”
Earlier, Carl Moore Management's Finley'sluckycharm repulsed a late bid from 2016 winner Athena by three-quarters of a length to capture the Roxelana.
Trained by Bret Calhoun and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Finley'sluckycharm covered the six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:09.39.
Now undefeated in four starts at Churchill Downs, Finley'sluckycharm was making her first start since finishing second in the La Brea (Grade I) at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.
The victory was worth $40,161 and increased Finley'sluckycharm's earnings to $283,708 with a record of 8-6-1-0.
Finley'sluckycharm returned $2.40 and $2.10. Athena, ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., returned $2.80 to place. There was no show wagering
Brian Hernandez Jr. (Jockey, Finley'sluckycharm, winner) – “She's a nice filly. Just she got a little tired down the lane going on her wrong lead, but she put in a solid effort.”
Bret Calhoun (Trainer, Finley'sluckycharm, winner) – “This is exactly where we needed to be. I think this is about as far as she needed tonight. We're hoping to get back on a Grade I type of schedule with her. The Winning Colors (May 27) is next and possibly the Ballerina (G-I in late August at Saratoga) after that.”
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