Farm and Adele B.
Dilschneider’s homebred Lea raced close to the lead throughout and
drew clear in the stretch to win Saturday’s ninth running of the Grade III,
$117,100 Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs by three-quarters of a length
over a fast-closing King David.
by Brian Hernandez Jr. and trained by Al Stall Jr., Lea ran 1
1/16 miles over a “firm” Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:42.27 to give Claiborne
Farm, Dilschneider and Stall their second stakes win of the Fall Meet. On
opening day, they teamed to win the Grade II, $168,150 Pocahontas with homebred
legendary Claiborne Farm of Paris, Ky., it was their 31st stakes win at Churchill Downs, which
dates back to 1956. They are now one stakes win from equaling world famous Calumet
Farm’s record of 32 stakes wins beneath the Twin Spires.
from post six in a full field of 14 three-year-olds, Lea rated in third
from the outside behind pacesetters Finale and Casual Trick, who
clipped off fractions of :23.45, :47.29 and 1:11.93. Midway through the final
turn, Lea challenged for the lead and kicked clear down the lane. King David,
who was unhurried early and encountered traffic entering the stretch, rallied
late but fell short.
left there like he normally does and he fought Brian just a hair, which he
does,” said the red-hot Stall, who improved his Fall Meet record to nine wins
from 16 starters. “Once he came back to Brian, it was his race to win or lose.
He opened up and then started waiting, but that’s what turf horses do, especially
ones that lay close.”
paid $7.40, $4.20 and $3.60 as the 5-2 favorite. King David, the 5-1 second
betting choice ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $5 and $3.60. Lockout,
at odds of 6-1 with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard, was another length back in third
and paid $4.80. Skyring, Any Given Royal, Artest, Finnegans
Wake, Excaper, Quick Wit, Finale, Film Shot, Two
Months Rent, Burn the Mortgage and Casual Trick completed the order
of finish. General Logan and Ol Army were scratched.
Commonwealth Turf was the first stakes win of Lea’s brief career. In his
previous start, the 3-year-old son of First Samurai out of the Galileo-IRE mare
Greenery finished third in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby over soft going.
first prize was worth $66,068, which boosted Lea’s earnings to $200,728.
Overall, he has won three of five starts with one second and one third.
go to South Carolina and then prep for something in the summer, like the
Firecracker (Handicap at Churchill Downs) and then go to Saratoga,” Stall said.
Commonwealth Turf – which honors Kentucky, one of four states constituted as a
commonwealth (the others are Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts) – was
one of two graded stakes events on Churchill Downs’ special “Downs After Dark”
program – the only nighttime racing event during it’s 21-day Fall Meet.
COMMONWEALTH TURF QUOTES
Stall Jr., trainer of Lea, winner:
“He left there like he normally does and he fought (jockey) Brian (Hernandez
Jr.) just a hair, which he does. Once he came back to Brian, it was his race to
win or lose. He opened up and then started waiting, but that’s what turf horses
do, especially ones that lay close.”
Q. Was that his last race this year? “Yes. He’ll go to South Carolina and
then prep for something in the summer, like the Firecracker (Handicap at
Churchill Downs), and then go to Saratoga.”
Q. This has been a great meet for you … “We’re excited and we have no
Hernandez Jr., rider on Lea, winner:
“We had a clean trip. We knew he was fast and so we wanted to give him the best
trip we could and stay out of his way. I was a good passenger and, when I
called on him, he spurted home pretty good. I definitely don’t think we’ve seen
the best of him. He’s got room for improvement and looks like he’ll just keep
getting better and better.
Q. How great has this month been for you? “I don’t know how much better it can
get. Maybe if we win the Clark (Handicap at Churchill Downs on Friday aboard
Neck ’n Neck).
Leparoux, rider on King David, runner-up: “I had an OK trip, but it could have been better. It was
a 14-horse field and I had a good trip, but then I couldn’t get out early
enough. He came running, though. He’s a nice horse.”
Bridgmohan, rider on Lockout, third:
“He ran good and he really tried. He tried the whole way.”