Wiggins Trainee Wins Under Hernandez
By Dick Downey
Connections quotes by Jennie Rees
:Photo by Reed Palmer Photography
Angaston put in a gritty stretch run from off the pace to narrowly win the $300,000, 6 1/2-furlong Franklin-Simpson Stakes sponsored by Franklin Bank & Trust on closing day of the Kentucky Downs meet.
With Brian Hernandez, Jr. up for trainer Lon Wiggins and owner Jim Jankiewicz' Twin Magnolia Farm, Angaston won for the fifth time in his career. It was the gelding's first stakes win.
He's come a long way since prevailing in a $20,000 claiming race at Turfway Park last December. Promptly put into allowance company, Angaston reeled off two wins and four seconds in his next six starts before finishing a close sixth at Ellis Park in the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint last month.
Hernandez knows Angaston well, having been aboard his last five starts counting today's win.
Shangroyal and Jose Ortiz went straight to the front in the Franklin-Simpson and set fractions of 23.10 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 47.20 for the half. Angaston bided his time in fifth, then fourth position while five wide but only 1 1/2 lengths off the pace with the first half-mile in the books. He caught Shangroyal at the furlong marker only to be confronted by Majestic Dunhill, who was ninth of 11 early on. Angaston dug in to prevail by a neck. Shangroyal stayed on for third, beaten a length and a quarter. Nottoway filled out the superfecta.
Angaston's winning time was 1:17.45 on a track rated firm.
The top four were followed across the finish line by King Valero, Get Western, Funny Duck, Navy Armed Guard, Bantu, favored Battle Station and Mr. Ashley.
The winner's share of the purse is $174,840, pushing Angaston's earnings to $301,227 from 13 lifetime starts. With five wins and five seconds, he's been off the board only three times in his career and was the 3-1 second choice today. His faithful were paid $8.80 to win, $6.40 to place and $3.00 to show on $2 tickets.
Louisville-based Lon Wiggins, the son of retired trainer Hal Wiggins, won with his first starter at the 2018 meet.
Angaston is a son of Denman (AUS) out of Lonhro (AUS), by Marq of Beauty and was bred in Kentucky by William M. Hogan.
Lon Wiggins: (On staying home to run at Ellis Park instead of Saratoga): “We just didn’t want to ship him that far in the heat. We thought it may be a better spot for him at Saratoga. But in the long run with this being our goal, we were hoping it would pay off in the end. And it did.
“His mind wasn’t in a good spot leading up to that race (at Ellis), and I think he bounced a little bit. But he’s just been back to his old self ever since that race. We were excited about today. He looked locked and loaded like he was in his three races at Churchill, throughout and around the turn. When Brian called on him, he quickened down the lane. He’s done that every time on the grass except the race at Ellis.”
Brian Hernandez Jr.: “The horse made the trip easy on us. He broke alertly and from the outside we were able to just kind of get over to be only about three wide on the turn. The nice thing about him is that he travels well and was always there for me. When the question was asked, he ran on through the wire for us.”
(On last race at Ellis Park): “It was against older horses. Lon had this race circled for a long time. We went into the last race thinking we had a big chance. We didn’t have the best of trips that day. We were a little wide and the Ellis Park turf course was playing to our disadvantage. It was really speedy that day. We just had an unlucky trip, so we threw that race out and came into today with a lot of confidence in him.”
(On being the all-time winningest jockey): “We won three. We weren’t here one of the days. But to be able to win a race like this the last day is always special to come back to Kentucky Downs. Now we just look forward to coming back next year.”
Owner Jim Jankiewicz (who has a farm in Georgetown, Ky., and currently is living and working in Malaysia as a construction engineer): “This is the biggest race we’ve ever won so it’s extremely, extremely exciting. Fantastic. It was my first day at Kentucky Downs, and it’s fantastic. Lon did a great job with the horse.”
Joe Bravo, second aboard Majestic Dunhill: “He’s a pretty cool horse. He laid it on the line. I really don’t like going wide on the turf, but there wasn’t really another place to be. But I’m proud of the big boy.”