Trainer Kenny McPeek seems to be having a banner year so far in 2017, improving his statistics compared to the last couple of seasons. On Saturday, his trainee Senior Investment broke loose at odds of 11-1 in the G3 Lexington Stakes, swallowing up the ground with giant strides to just get his whiskers in front of the Bob Baffert-trained West Coast at the wire. A sophomore son of Discreetly Mine, ridden by Channing Hill, covered 1 1/16 miles over Keeneland's fast main track in 1:45.05 for owner Fern Circle Stables (Paul Fireman).
“I was pretty confident,” McPeek said. “I've been trying to find a mile and an eighth race, and I had the option of taking him out of town. But I really felt like OK, we're here. He trained really good here this week. So do we work him or do we run him? So, let's say we run him.”
The Lexington win earns Senior Investment 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which will not be enough to get the colt into the starting gates on the first Saturday in May.
“I really felt like a mile and an eighth would have been great for him,” continued McPeek. “I think Churchill ought to add more (Kentucky Derby qualifying) points to this race immediately, but that's the way the ball bounced. (Running in the) Preakness (G1)? Maybe, we'll see. We have a really good horse and we're going to have some fun.”
Resiliency broke from the inside post very quickly to take the lead heading into the first turn, followed by Time to Travel on the outside. Behind them, Souper Tapit had broken a half-step slowly, but was very rank and rushing up on the inside. He and No Dozing both had to check off the heels of Resiliency early in the clubhouse turn, bouncing off one another and Souper Tapit also bouncing off the rail. Convict Pike and He's Munnie were well-placed to the outside, avoiding the incident, along with West Coast just behind those. It was a long way back to Lookin at Blessing, and Senior Investment was completely unhurried another three or so lengths behind that colt.
After a first quarter in :24.16, a still-rank Souper Tapit bulled his way between Resiliency and Time to Travel to take over the lead. No Dozing was just at his hip in third, with Time to Travel relegated to fourth. Still, He's Munnie, Convict Pike and West Coast were among the outside of that grouping through a half-mile in 47.71 seconds.
Running in spurts down the backstretch, Senior Investment came up to join Lookin at Blessing on the inside, but stayed alongside that one as they closed the gap on the leading pack. Up top, Time to Travel came back to take over the lead from Souper Tapit mid-way through the far turn, and West Coast was gunning for that leader three-wide. At the top of the stretch West Coast took over and moved away by several lengths, but the race wasn't won just yet.
Senior Investment tracked No Dozing around the turn about three paths off the rail, then tipped to that colt's outside for the run to the wire. Approaching the sixteenth pole, No Dozing looked like he would be a close second to West Coast, with Senior Investment just behind them in third, but suddenly Senior Investment responded. Hill gave him a quick reminder with his right hand, and the colt took several giant strides in a perfectly-timed rush to nose out West Coast on the wire. No Dozing would have to settle for third, and Time to Travel kept on behind them to finish fourth.
“He timed it right,” laughed Hill. “Once I got him tipped out where he could really stretch his legs out, he came home nice. At the eighth pole, I wasn't 100 percent sure I was going to get there, but he was really running on. This is a really nice colt – really special. When I won on him at Oaklawn, he showed a lot, showed a turn of foot, too. Today, he was the best one.”
Bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Farms, Senior Investment was purchased by McPeek for $95,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling sale. The colt took a total of four starts to break his maiden, then came back two starts later to win an allowance at Oaklawn. He finished sixth in the Louisiana Derby before his first stakes win in the Lexington. Overall, Senior Investment boasts a record of three wins from eight starts, with earnings of just over $200,000.
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