By Dick Downey
Connections quotes by Jennie Rees
Photo by Reed Palmer Photography
In the fourth of five stakes races worth $2.7 million on Saturday's card at Kentucky Downs, Proforma pulled the upset in the $500,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint Stakes Presented by Coca-Cola.
Bet down to 7-1 off a 20-1 morning line, Proforma got by 5-2 favorite White Flag late in the stretch. Never far back, Proforma was 1 3/4 lengths back of a quick 46.16 half-mile pace set by the dueling Done Deal and Little Chesney. Hugging the rail into the stretch, Proforma was set down for the drive in Kentucky Downs' long stretch by Joe Bravo. At the furlong marker, he was only a length back, and Proforma prevailed by a head.
Finishing a half-length back in third was Vici, who won here last Saturday, followed by Undrafted, Blind Ambition, Done Deal, Conquest Panthera and Little Chesney.
Proforma, trained by Mike Stidham, was timed of 1:15.72. It was the third time on the card that a track record was set for 6 1/2 furlongs. Ruby Notion ran the distance in 1:15.80 one race earlier in the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint, and in the third race, an allowance, Linburgh's Kitten broke a four-year-old record held by Richies Party Girl by getting the distance in 1:16.11
With the win, Proforma's record is 4-0-4 from 10 starts with earnings of $442,990. About two-thirds of her earnings came from the $300,700 she took home today for owner DARRS, Inc., which also won the second race on the card with Taxman. The Turf Sprint is the first graded win for Proforma. DARRS is headed by David Ross, a northern Virginia-based real estate agent.
The win rewarded $2 backers of Proforma with payoffs of $17.60 to win, $8.40 to place and $5.40 to show.
A gelded son of Munnings, Proforma is by Caseys Irish Pride, by Salt Lake. He was bred in Kentucky by Reggie Beeson and Tim Beeson.
Winning trainer Mike Stidham: “He does everything right, loves his job and cool around the barn. Real professional. Off of that, (Keeneland or Breeders' Cup are) certainly something we’ll be looking at. This was a bit of a breakthrough for him. So we haven’t been thinking along those lines, but off of this race, we certainly have to consider it. The 6 1/2 was the key and a good ride by Joe. The horse we kind of freshened him for this race, it was six weeks in between. He was training good at Fair Hill and everything came together.”
Joe Bravo: “It unfolded really good to the eighth pole. You think, ‘Great, we’re going to break loose from everybody and explode.’ And you look over and see them running, and we really didn’t know who won the photo. All I can say that both horses laid it on the line. You watch his last race, he was the only horse in the race that was really closing. It was a speed-biased track, and he overcome a lot in the race. I was expecting a good one today.”
Joel Rosario, aboard White Flag: “He ran well. I thought turning for home I got ’em. And that horse just kept fighting. It was pretty close. I couldn’t really tell because of the angles here, but he ran well.”