Winning their second graded stakes race on the card this Saturday at Churchill Downs, trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. teamed up with 7-1 shot Silver Prospector to capture the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. The 2-year-old son of Declaration of War, owned by Ed and Susie Orr, found clear running in the far turn and joined the battle for the lead at the head of the lane. Holding off challengers throughout his stretch run to win by three-quarters of a length, the game gray colt stopped the clock in 1:45.94 for 1 1/16 miles over the sloppy main track.
“It's very special to have horses compete at the highest level on days like today,” said Asmussen, who also won previous runnings of the Kentucky Jockey Club with Private Vow (2005) and Tapiture (2013). “This horse has learned how to relax and was able to do that very well today.”
The victory earns Silver Prospector 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“He was able to relax behind horses today and was really comfortable the entire trip.” Santana said. “He showed a lot of strength being able to kick that hard in the stretch.”
Silver Prospector broke well but laid off the early pace in this start, settling in fifth through the early going. Longshot New Eagle grabbed a 1 1/2-length lead down the backstretch, leading South Bend and bottled up favorite Tiz the Law through fractions of :24.39 and :49.92.
Tiz the Law was a bit rank early on, but settled into the backstretch run in a joint third with Two Last Words. Meanwhile, Silver Prospector began to inch closer to the leaders while going three-wide in the far turn, and had moved into contention at the quarter pole.
Silver Prospector had to first shake off the challenge of South Bend, then Tiz the Law finally caught a seam between rivals and came with his run up the inside. When Tiz the Law changed back to his left lead at the sixteenth pole, Silver Prospector was able to maintain his advantage and hold off the closing rush of 87-1 longshot Finnick the Fierce by three-quarters of a length. Tiz the Law settled for third, and Enforceable was fourth.
“He handled the mud okay but I never was able to get him out of that spot on the rail,” post-time favorite Tiz the Law's jockey Manny Franco said. “He felt good the entire way but he got a little too far behind horses and we never got through.”
It appeared that Tiz the Law switched to his “wrong” lead leg at the sixteenth pole.
“Well, it's disappointing it's not our day today,” said Tiz the Law's managing partner Jack Knowlton of Sackatoga Stable. “We sent him down here to get a run over the track and we got into some trouble in the race. Hopefully we can move forward out of this and we'll figure out a plan for what can be next.”
Bred in Kentucky by Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton & Silver Fern Farm, Silver Prospector is out of the multiple stakes-placed Tapit mare Tap Softly. The $190,000 OBS April purchase required four starts to break his maiden, and was third last out in the listed Street Sense Stakes at the beginning of Churchill's November meet. The Kentucky Jockey Club win improves his overall record to two wins from six starts, with earnings of over $250,000.
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