Legends of War leads O'Neill 1-2 in Kentucky Downs' Franklin-Simpson

September 12, 2019 05:57pm
Legends of War leads O'Neill 1-2 in Kentucky Downs' Franklin-Simpson
Photo: Grace Clark/Kentucky Downs

Trainer Doug O’Neill capped the 2019 Kentucky Downs meet Thursday with a 1-2 graded stakes finish that lit up the tote board.

Legends of War came home two lengths clear of fellow O’Neill trainee Stubbins to win the Grade 3, $500,000 Franklin-Simpson Stakes.

The Scat Daddy colt Legends of War (23-1) returned $49.40 and combined with Stubbins (10-1) for a $1 exacta that paid $218. Uncapped, the longest shot in the field at 85-1, won a photo for third and sealed a trifecta that returned $2,341.35 on a 50-cent wager.

With those full fields, you are happy to just try to hit the board," O'Neill said. "To run one-two, a dream come true. I'm on cloud nine right now.”

Legends of War ran seven races as a 2-year-old in Europe, then transitioned to the U.S. for his 3-year-old campaign. The Franklin-Simpson – a 6 ½-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-old colts – marked his first stakes score.

Under jockey Rafael Bejarano, Legends of War broke to an early lead in the Franklin-Simpson, which drew a 12-horse field. He was a length in front heading downhill into the turn, with Carotari and Uncapped chasing as they passed the half-mile pole.

Legends of War turned into Kentucky Downs’ expansive stretch ahead by more than a length. He kept a comfortable lead the rest of the way, never threatened by Stubbins’ drive for second.

He looked pretty sharp in the post parade, like he wanted to run," Bejarano said. "I knew there were a couple of horses who had more speed than I. But all day speed was holding."

“I feel bad for Kelly and Jack McShane of McShane racing," O'Neill added of Stubbins' connnections. "They’re great people, there today. He ran a winning race, he ran a dynamite race, and Legends of War had his own way on the front end. Very proud of how Stubbins ran and how Joel Rosario rode him.”

Stubbins’ second-place finish was his best over three tries in grade or group company. Third-place Uncapped, a Brendan Walsh trainee, hit the board in his first graded stakes try.

Archidust, last-out winner of Saratoga’s listed Mahony Stakes, went off at even money but managed only fourth.

Nitrous, whose last three starts came in Grade 1 or 2 dirt sprints on the New York circuit, missed the board as he switched to turf.


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