Jake Ballis’s Black Type Thoroughbreds showed a lot of confidence in Actuator.
First, the Texas-based syndicate ponied up big money to acquire the son of Bodemeister following a 7 1/4-length maiden victory on June 8 at Churchill Downs. Then, the group thought enough of his chances in the $300,000 Indiana Derby (G3) on Saturday at Horseshoe Indianapolis to charter a flight to the Shelbyville track.
The confidence paid off when Actuator scored a tenacious half-length victory in the race for 3-year-olds, fighting off Best Actor late and surviving an objection. Both the eventual winner and runner-up were in close quarters at both the start and end of the race but stewards made no change.
8-7-4-1 unofficially across the wire in the G3 Indiana Derby
#8 Actuator crosses the wire 1st, Inquiry/Objection sign is up pic.twitter.com/Hl8mwUtpOV— TVG (@TVG) July 9, 2022
“If I come down, I’m going to have it out with Flo right here,” Actuator’s jockey James Graham said of Florent Geroux’s claim that his mount fouled Best Actor. “He was never going by me.” Trained by Michael McCarthy, Actuator sat third just off Trademark’s pace with Mowins tracking second. Graham asked Actuator on the far turn and needed to persevere, but once he struck the front at the eighth pole felt he had the race won despite Best Actor closing on the outside. “I knew he’d stay,” Graham said of the 1 1/16-mile distance off the 7-furlong maiden win. “His last work was fantastic, and he’s a horse who’s shown me a lot of tenacity. As long as he has a target to chase after he’s going to keep getting better.” Joe Ragsdale’s Rags Racing Stables, Rick Howard, and Gavin O’Connor have owned Actuator since acquiring him as a “short” yearling for $2,200 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter mixed sale. Black Type then bought in after the maiden win.
“We paid quite a bit more than $2,200,” Ballis joked. Actuator started his career with Rodolphe Brisset, finishing third in a pair of turf races as a two-year-old at Horseshoe Indianapolis. He returned at three to win his debut before stretching back out for Indiana Derby glory. That was also his first start for McCarthy, who won the 2018 Indiana Derby with Axelrod, ironically with Geroux aboard that one. Best Actor’s runner-up finish was the first loss of his career from three starts. Texas Derby winner King Ottoman finished third.