Señor Buscador relaxed off a sharp early pace, grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch and out-kicked Injunction late to win Saturday’s 30th renewal of the Grade 3, $300,000 Ack Ack at Churchill Downs by 1 1/4 lengths. Grade 1 winner Speaker’s Corner, the 7-5 favorite, finished seventh.
Señor Buscador, a 4-year-old son of Mineshaft owned by Joe Peacock Jr., ran one mile on a fast track in 1:34.60. The Ack Ack is a Breeders’ Cup “win and you’re in” event for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. By winning the race, Señor Buscador will receive an entry-fees paid berth to the Nov. 5 race at Keeneland along with a travel stipend.
Francisco Arrieta rode the winner for the first graded-stakes win of his riding career. Trainer Todd Fincher saddled him to victory for his second graded stakes triumph. Previously, he won the 2018 Sunland Derby (G3) with Señor Buscador’s older half-brother Runaway Ghost.
Surly Furious went right to the front and led the field of eight older horses down the backstretch in the one-turn mile through fractions of :22.91 seconds, :45.74 and 1:10.08 with Speaker’s Corner chasing from the rail and Injunction to the leader’s outside. Señor Buscador was traveling comfortable mid-pack and in the clear on the outside.
Leaving the turn, Speaker’s Corner began to fade and Señor Buscador ranged up to Surly Furious’ right hip. He took command in upper stretch and edged away from Injunction nearing the wire.
“I was able to get him into a really good rhythm down the backside,” Arrieta said. “He was traveling in a good position behind the speed in front of us. In the stretch he showed a lot of fight to him. It’s really exciting to win a race like this and I’m so thankful for Joey (Peacock) and Todd (Fincher) for letting me ride him.”
The first prize was $180,350 and hiked Señor Buscador’s bankroll to $376,677 with a record of 6: 4-0-1. It was his second career stakes win. At age 2, he won the 2020 Springboard Mile at Remington Park.
Next up is the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, according to Fincher.
“He showed his talent today,” Fincher said. “We knew he was a talented horse by the way he won the Springboard Mile in 2020 and he’s now maturing and I think is coming into his own.”
Six of the last nine Ack Ack winners – Pants On Fire (2013), Tapiture (2015), Tom’s Ready (2016), Awesome Slew (2017), Seeking the Soul (2018) and Mr. Money (2020) – used the race as a springboard to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, which is scheduled for Nov. 5 at Keeneland with a $1 million purse.
Señor Buscador paid $14.36, $6.70 and $4.08 at odds of 6-1. Injunction, ridden by Gerardo Corrales, paid $11.72 and $6.76. Three Technique was another 3 1/2 lengths back in third under Rafael Bejarano and paid $4.74 to show.
Surly Furious was fourth and was followed by Fulsome, Silver Prospector, Speaker’s Corner and Untreated. Mailman Money and Twilight Blue were scratched
Señor Buscador, out of the Desert God mare Rose’s Desert, was bred in Kentucky by Joe R. Peacock Sr. and his son, the owner.
The race is named in honor of Cain Hoy Stable’s 1971 Horse of the Year Ack Ack, who is enshrined in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In his only Churchill Downs appearance, Ack Ack won the 1969 Derby Trial in 1:34.40, which was a track record for one mile that has since been eclipsed.