Photo: Ciara Bowen
Approaching September 28th if the name Graydar
was mentioned the conversation that came
after it revolved around the layoff he was coming off of. Would it have an
impact on his performance? Was he still capable of winning at the top level?
The race would be his first in six months, and only his third of the year – yet
in those previous five races, he had run in the money all five times and only
finished worse than first on one occasion. Trainer Todd Pletcher believed him
fit enough to run the mile required for the Grade 2 Kelso Invitational
Handicap. “To me he’s been training more impressively than he has at any point
in his career,” the trainer said a couple days prior to the race.
Pletcher wasn’t the only one who believed his horse could
take the victory; at 7-2, Graydar was the morning line favorite. By post time,
he was still the favorite at 9-10. In thrilling front-running fashion, he won
the race over Brazilian bred Brujo de Olleros by three-quarters of a length.
Hymn Book was a neck behind in third.
The Kelso was one of six graded stakes on Belmont’s card on
what they dubbed Super Saturday, with five Grade I’s and five Breeders’ Cup “Win
and You’re In” events. Graydar’s victory guaranteed him a position in the Grade
I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita the first weekend of November. The four year old son of Unbridled’s Song is
owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stables, who plan to wait to see how the horse
comes out of the race before talking to Pletcher about which Breeders’ Cup race
to actually target. They have been considering the Classic for him.
Under veteran Edgar Prado, the gray broke slightly slower
than desired, but flew to the lead promptly. Tracked by Souper Speedy, he set a
moderate pace with fractions of :23.41, :47.11, and 1:10.47 to finish the race
The Kelso marked his fourth consecutive win, and his third
in graded company. On February 9, he posted a front running victory in the
Grade I Donn Handicap and in his second start of the year came from off the
pace to beat Mark Valeski in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap. Following the
New Orleans Handicap, an ankle chip was removed and the horse was given time
off. He was reunited with Pletcher at Saratoga over the summer, and has done
well from day one of his return according to Randy Gullat, one of the owners of
Twin Creeks Racing Stables.
Graydar paid modest amounts of $3.80, $3.10, and $2.30.
Brujo de Olleros paid $7.80 and $5.20, and Hymn Book paid $3.50.
The victory increased Graydar’s career earnings to $841,560,
slightly over three times the amount he was purchased for at the 2011
Fasig-Tipton Florida two-year olds in training sale.
While his ankle chip suggests his sire’s reputation for poor
ankles is well-earned, Graydar does not seem to be any worse for wear. After
the passing of Unbridled’s Song earlier this year, it would be only fitting
that one of his progeny (and his arguably best son to date, at that) win
whichever division of the Breeders’ Cup they’re entered for.
- ~Ciara Bowen