Though he missed in his last three outings, Flurry Racing Stable's Mr. Misunderstood regained his winning groove to take Saturday evening's Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old son of ArchArchArch, ridden to perfection by Florent Geroux, covered 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf course in 1:41.83. Sent off at odds of 5-2, the Brad Cox-trained Mr. Misunderstood defeated Inspector Lynley and Mr Cub by a half-length on the wire, besting a field including champion World Approval (favorite) and multiple Grade 1 winner Divisidero.
“This horse isn't the biggest horse in the world but does very well covered up behind some of the other bigger ones in front of him,” said Geroux. “When I tipped him out he really dug in. He didn't run bad in his last start (the Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland) but we knew he was better than that. He proved today he's right up there with some of the best turf horses in the country.”
Breaking from the inside post position, Divisidero leapt to his right out of the gate, causing a chain reaction of bumping between Inspector Lynley, World Approval, and Mr. Misunderstood. World Approval appeared to take the worst of it, but fought hard to maintain a forward position in the first 100 yards.
Mr Cub broke the best from nearer the outside, and Flatlined was also quick into stride. World Approval battled his way into second between those rivals around the first turn, while Geroux cruised into an easy fourth position after having Mr. Misunderstood's haunches nearly knocked out from under him at the start.
Through fractions of :24.70 and :48.75, Mr Cub took an easy lead down the backstretch, tracked all the way by World Approval. Mr. Misunderstood drafted in behind the leader all the way through the far turn, preventing Divisidero from taking the inside route. While Divisidero re-routed five-wide, Geroux threaded Mr. Misunderstood between horses to get clear running room at the three-sixteenths pole.
It took the gelding about a sixteenth of a mile to find his best stride, but Geroux had timed his rally perfectly to hit the wire about a half-length in front. Inspector Lynley was a close second over Mr Cub, while Divisidero came flying down the far outside to just miss while finishing fourth. The remaining order of finish was: Parlor, World Approval and Flatlined. Shining Copper was scratched.
“I think we may have rushed him a bit getting back from the Maker's 46 at Keeneland,” said Brad Cox. “He ran well but I think the three weeks between races was a bit too much, especially running in a Grade I. We gave him a bit more time off and pointed for the Wise Dan and he proved he could compete with some of the top horses on the grass.”
Bred in Kentucky by Athens Woods, Mr. Misunderstood was a $130,000 juvenile at the OBS March sale. He broke his maiden in his third out, then went on a winning tear through the Fair Grounds, Louisiana Downs and Churchill in his sophomore season. Overall, Mr. Misunderstood has won 10 of his 17 lifetime starts, earning over $570,000.
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