Catesby Clay’s Bizzy Caroline charged furiously down the Matt
Winn Turf Course and gave trainer Ken McPeek his 300th career
win at Churchill Downs when she got up in the final jump to take the 36th running
of the $111,000 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (Grade III) by a neck over
pacesetter Heavenly Landing.
The Early Times Mint Julep was the
last of three graded stakes races run under the lights as part of Churchill
Downs’ special “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia
Vodka” nighttime racing program. Earlier, Island Bound won the Grade
III, $110,100 Winning Colors and Rothko prevailed in the Grade III,
$109,400 Aristides. On-track attendance totaled 21,827.
McPeek is just the 13th trainer
to reach the 300-win milestone at Churchill Downs. Bizzy Caroline was the
second of three winners Saturday night for McPeek and jockey Manny Cruz,
who also teamed to win with Colbert in Race 5 and Jazil’s Song in
“I’m very proud of this,” McPeek said via
phone from New York, where he is overseeing the training of Atigun and Unstoppable
U for next Saturday’s Belmont (GI). “It’s awesome. A lot of people helped
me get here: the horses, owners and my great staff.”
Bizzy Caroline broke well as the 9-5
favorite and rated in mid-pick through fractions of :24.32, :48.95 and 1:13.24
set by Heavenly Landing, who opened up a three-length advantage in the stretch.
Bizzy Caroline angled out in midstretch and was set down for the drive by Cruz.
She responded with a strong rally and got up just in time.
“When we turned for home and
(Heavenly Landing) opened up, I thought, ‘Oh no, it’s too much.’ But she kept
gaining and we got there on time,” Cruz said.
Hard Seven finished another 2 ¾ lengths back in third and was followed
in order by Ravi’s Song, Artemus Kitten, Snow Top Mountain
and Warm Hugs. Tapitsfly and Joharmony were scratched.
A 4-year-old dark bay or brown
daughter of Afleet Alex out of the Saint Ballado mare Sacre Coeur, Bizzy
Caroline covered the 1 1/16 miles on the firm course in 1:43.29.
It was the second consecutive
victory in the Early Times Mint Julep for the McPeek-Cruz duo, who were
victorious in last year’s running with Magdalena Racing’s My Baby
The victory was worth $67,444 and
improved Bizzy Caroline’s bankroll to $294,844 with a record of 4-2-2 from 12
career starts. The other graded stakes win of her career came in last spring’s
Regret (GIII) at Churchill Downs.
Bizzy Caroline returned $5.60, $3.60
and $3. Heavenly Landing, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $7.20 and
$4.80 with Hard Seven, under Leandro Goncalves, finishing third and
returning $4 to show.
Racing continues Sunday with 10-race
program that includes a Pick 6 carryover of $8,568. Post time for the first
race is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Pick 6 begins on Race 5 at 2:51
TIMES MINT JULEP HANDICAP QUOTES
Ken McPeek, trainer of Bizzy
Caroline, winner: “It was nip and tuck and I thought
Manny (Cruz) rode a great race. She’s pretty special. I’m really happy for the
Q: On 300
career wins at Churchill Downs?“I’m very proud of this. It’s
awesome. A lot of people helped me get here: the horses, owners and my great
Manny Cruz, jockey on Bizzy
Caroline, winner: “The trip is so important and I
had a great trip. When we turned for home and (Heavenly Landing) opened up, I
thought, ‘Oh no, it’s too much.’ But she kept gaining and we got there on
Eddie Kenneally, trainer of Heavenly
Landing, second: “She ran a big race, she sure did.
She’s a real nice filly. It was a real nice filly that ran her down, and we
just got beat a neck and the rest of them were far back. So it was a good
effort. She redeemed herself. She ran here on (Kentucky) Derby Day and there
was no pace in the race, and she didn’t relax behind a slow pace. Today there
was no pace in the race and we elected to let her run, and it worked out well.”
Corey Lanerie, jockey on Heavenly
Landing, second: “I thought I was home. My filly
ran so hard to get beat, it’s a shame that she got beat. But she gave me
everything she had. When I turned for home and called on her, I thought she was
gone. I never, ever thought somebody would run me down. But at about the
sixteenth pole I kind of checked and saw (Bizzy Caroline) coming and there was
nothing I could do to hold her off. Everything went according to plan. We tried
to let her run today. We’ve been rating her and, for some reason, she hasn’t
been showing up. So tonight we thought we’d just let her free-run and it worked
out pretty good.”
Dan McFarlane, trainer of Hard
Seven, third: “She ran good, but I can’t get out
of this ‘third.’ I keep running third. Whether it’s California or here,
running in Grade II and Grade IIIs, and I keep running third. But I’m very
pleased with her effort. I want her to go a little further, too. I think a
mile-and-a-quarter and a mile-and-an-eighth would suit her a little better. But
she ran well.”
Q: What brought you to Churchill Downs this summer? “I just think there’s more opportunity back here in the
Midwest. It’s tough in California, and it’s tough here, too. But I just wanted
to try something different.”