Favored Proud Strike
found his way through traffic in midstretch and then rallied to win the
$45,799 Friday evening feature at Churchill Downs by three-quarters of a
length over Hard Aces.
Trained by Steve Asmussen
and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.
, Proud Strike completed the 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.15.
Proud Strike raced
near the back of the field of 11 3-year-olds for the first part of the
race and then moved toward the leaders with three-eighths of a mile
remaining. He came between horses at the top
of the stretch, found needed running room and then rallied gamely to
wear down Hard Aces nearing the wire.
Proud Strike, a
bay son of Smart Strike, collected $24,660 for the victory and improved
his bankroll to $66,073. His record now stands at two wins, one second
and one third from seven career starts.
Proud Strike returned $7.20, $4.20 and $2.80. Hard Aces, under C.J. McMahon
, returned $6.20 and $3 with Title Contender
, under the Spring Meet’s leading rider Shaun Bridgmohan
four lengths back in third and returning $3 to show.
It was the second win of the day for Asmussen and his 32nd
of the Spring Meet. He trails Mike Maker
by one in the trainer standings with two days remaining. Asmussen
is seeking his 12th
title and has eight horses entered Saturday and four Sunday. Maker, a
two-time leading trainer at Churchill Downs, has two horses entered
Saturday and six Sunday.