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Danzon Gets Up in Locust Grove

Alfred Nuckols Jr.’s Danzon got up in the final stride to edge 48-1 longshot Happiness Is by a nose as part of a six-horse photo finish to win the 29th running of the $116,200 Locust Grove Handicap (Grade III) for fillies and mares racing one mile on the turf on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

 

War Tigress, ridden by Corey Lanerie, and Happiness Is, ridden by Greta Kuntzweiler led the field of 11 through fractions of :24.84, :48.72 and 1:12.94 while Danzon, under Alex Solis, raced near the back of the pack.

 

Turning for home, Happiness Is assumed command as the field spread out with favored Acoma, carrying top weight of 121 pounds under Robby Albarado, rallying three wide to the inside of Happiness Is while Danzon charged toward the leaders seven wide to snatch the victory in the final jump.  

       

Trained by Jim Baker, Danzon ran the mile on a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:37.02 under 116 pounds. The victory was worth $67,721 for the 7-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Royal Academy out of the Kingmambo mare Zappeuse who was claimed out of her previous start here for $80,000.

 

The victory improved Danzon’s record to 29-10-4-6 with earnings of $552,544. It was her third consecutive victory at Churchill Downs.

 

Danzon returned $14.80, $8.60 and $5.60. Happiness Is returned $42.40 and $21.20 and finished a neck in front of C.S. Silk, who paid $10.20 to show under Francisco Torres. Favored Acoma was a nose back in fourth and a nose ahead of Keertana. Awesome Grannie was a half-length in back of Keertana in sixth and was followed in order by Sweetest Song, Meadow Saffron, Lady’s Laughter, War Tigress and Winter’s Circle.


LOCUST GROVE HANDICAP QUOTES

 

ALEX SOLIS (jockey, DANZON, winner): “She’s a nice filly. She relaxed good through the first part. I saved some ground and then made my move on the outside. At the quarter pole I finally got her out and she flew home. She got squeezed out of the gate but she’s a come-from-behind horse. She was really happy in the post parade and she ran a big race. At the wire I wasn’t sure if I got there because there were three horses inside of me. But thank God we did.”

 

JIM BAKER (trainer, DANZON, first): “It was awesome winning. She is a nice horse. I can do anything with her. In the mornings I trained her like a two-turn horse. She’s a classy filly. She has a lot of heart. It was the owner’s decision to claim the horse. I asked, ‘Who?’ and he said it was her, and I said ‘Let’s go for it.’ We’re going to Saratoga with her. There are a lot of options for her up there. I thought we got beat at the wire, but when the numbers came up and it was 6-9, I was excited.”

 

GRETA KUNTZWEILER (jockey, HAPPINESS IS, second): “It’s so hard to get so close, but it was disappointing. I knew it was close and she ran so hard and I wanted her up there and I thought we set it up nicely.” 

 

ROBBY ALBARADO (jockey, ACOMA, fourth): “She ran hard. I thought we had it. Tough beat.”

 

DAVID CARROLL (trainer, ACOMA, fourth): “She ran a game race. It was her second race back and she ran a tough race. Coming down the lane we thought she was there, but the fillies on the outside got us. We will move on to the Beverly D., which is what we have planned for her this summer. I’m proud of her effort today.”

 

 

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