Jockey Declan Cannon earned his first $1 million victory as Anglophile held off odds-on favorite Far Bridge to take Sunday’s Dueling Grounds Derby (G3) by at half-length on the third day of the Kentucky Downs meet.
“It will probably take a day or two to sink in,” said Cannon, who the race before finished second in the $1 million Dueling Grounds Oaks on Sabalenka. “I’ve never seen those kinds of numbers in front of my name in a card before.”
As Anglophile strode to the wire in front, the winning owners on the rail burst into raucous cheering that continued into the winner’s circle. LGF Racing is a partnership founded by Louisville’s Hunter Rankin, whose family’s Upson Downs Farm bred Anglophile with Louie W. Wright.
“I had this idea to put 14 guys together and got together with this horse,” Rankin said. “It is very special to me because my parents bred this horse. He is such a neat little horse, he does everything you ask him to do. If you don’t ask him to do it, he won’t; but if you ask him he will. He has just gotten better with racing. We put blinkers on him a race ago and it helped him because he is so laid back. I can’t say enough about what Brian Lynch and his staff have done with him.”
Anglophile laid in fourth after the first half-mile went in a very tepid 50.76 seconds, six lengths off the pace set by Wizard of Westwood. Just after Battle of Normandy ran to a short-lived lead at the eighth pole, he was overtaken by the winner, who then had to keep Far Bridge at bay while completing 1 5/16 miles in 2:08.93 over firm turf. Anglophile paid $23.40 to win as the fifth choice.
:trophy:#6 ANGLOPHILE ($23.40) sneaks up the rail in the shadow of the wire to win the GIII $1 million Dueling Grounds Derby at @KYDownsRacing!September 3, 2023
“Beautiful trip,” Cannon said. “Got a little more forward than I thought today, but he fell into a nice rhythm. I knew he’d stay the distance. I just rode him with plenty of confidence. He was doing his best late work and hit the line strong. He’s a really nice horse. He beat older horses at Ellis, and that’s when I really knew he was on the improve. It’s not always easy to beat older horses going two turns. We pointed for this race for a long time.”
Anglophile beat older horses in a July 16 allowance race. The son of English Channel came into the Dueling Grounds Derby off a third place, by a total of a neck, in Ellis Park’s Kentucky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby.
“I shouldn’t have gotten beat on him last time,” Cannon said. “I made a mule of it. I kind of got stuck behind horses and got out too late. I made sure I got plenty of running room today, so I made amends.
“Brian just said to ride him with confidence. Brian never gives me instructions. He lets me do my job, and he does a great job in the mornings getting these horses ready. When he legs me up, I have no worries on my side.”
Far Bridge was in a bit tight before gamely coming up just short of the victory in the field of nine 3-year-olds.
“I had a good trip but he tried to lug in a little bit passing the quarter pole,” said jockey Jose Ortiz. “I was right in the clear and he went back in behind Battle of Normandy. I had to take a hold and grab him and go outside again. I think that is what cost him the race right there. I am sure I would have won it.”
It was another length back to Battle of Normandy, followed by the tiring pacesetter Wizard of Westwood, Really Good, Clever Thought, Just a Photo, Red Route One and Lion of War.
Anglophile now is 9: 3-1-2, earning $735,599 after picking up $597,120.
“It was great,” trainer Brian Lynch after earning his second win of the young meet. “He’d been training so well coming into this race. We thought he had a little bit of traffic there last time that probably could have cost him the prep for it. But he overcame it today. What a great, confident ride with Declan. It was just great to see this little horse and this group of guys. Just a wonderful group. To pull this off for them is fantastic. Everybody just loves this little horse. He just continues to get better and better. We’re just thrilled to have him in the barn.
“I think the sky’s the limit for this little guy, especially for these marathon distances. So we’ll just let the dust settle here and we’ll look for bigger and better things down the road.”
Cannon also won Thursday’s opening-day Tapit Stakes aboard Harlan Estate. His three wins, out of 14 mounts, put him in a three-way tie in the standings behind Ortiz’s meet-leading four wins.
“I’m just thrilled for Declan,” Lynch said. “He’s been a big part of our team. He gets out there early every day, working horses. Just great to see him have such a strong meet at Ellis and really continuing it here at Kentucky Downs.”
Daily Double Racing’s Saratoga Flash went wire to wire to take the $500,000 National Thoroughbred League Handicap by 2 3/4 lengths over Siege of Boston in the finale of Sunday’s 12-race card. Ridden by Edgard Zayas for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., Saratoga Flash paid $18.92 to win after covering a mile in 1:32.39.