Creator Blitzes Arkansas Derby Stretch
By Dick Downey
Creator charged down the stretch between horses to win the Arkansas Derby in an 11-1 upset.
Ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr., Creator came away from the gate last, typical of the late runner. In front of the 12-horse field, Gettysburg set quick fractions of 22.81, 46.33 and 1:10.61, closely pursued by 4-5 favorite Cupid, with American Pioneer and Unbridled Outlaw in third and fourth position at the first two calls and Gray Sky in third and American Pioneer following the front two after six furlongs.
As the stretch run unfolded, of the early leaders only Gettysburg was still fighting for position. But it was Creator, blinkers covered with dirt, who threaded his way through horses to get the lead about 220 yards from the finish line.
At that point, Suddenbreakingnews was a head back in second and Whitmore, yet another closer, was third by only a half-length. That was the trifecta at the wire after Creator finished best to win by 1 1/4 length. Whitmore was another 1 1/2 length back of Suddenbreakingnews, and Dazzling Gem finished fourth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths after running mid-pack most of the way.
Gettysburg was a stubborn fifth, followed by Discreetness, Cutacorner, Gray Sky, American Pioneer, Cupid, Unbridled Outlaw and Luna de Loco.
After the first half-mile, Creator was last, 14 1/4 lengths off the lead as Gettysburg was winging it on the lead. Both horses are owned by Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm LLC.
The 1 1/8-mile was timed in 1:50.14.
With his 100 Kentucky Derby points for the win, Creator now has 110 and ranks sixth on the leaderboard. Suddenbreakingnews picked up 40 points and now has 50, putting him 12th on the list. Whitmore got 20 to run his total to 44 and push him to 16th. Dazzling Gem's fourth-place finish yielded 10 points, and he now has 30 and stands 25th. Only 20 horses can run in the Kentucky Derby.
If things don't change between now and Kentucky Derby day, and it's unlikely they won't, Mo Tom will be excluded from the race. He has 32 points and ranks 21st.
Creator returned a generous $25.20, $8.60 and $5.00 to backers. The $2 exacta paid $120.20, and the $1 trifecta yielded $258.10.
Creator lost five times at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Fair Grounds before breaking his maiden at Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve Asmussen. Asmussen immediately put Creator into stakes company, resulting in a closing third-place finish in the Rebel Stakes, the final prep for the Arkansas Derby. It's Asmussen's third Arkansas Derby win
A son of Tapit, Creator was bred in Kentucky by Mt.Brilliant Broodmares I LLC. He's out of Morena (PER), by Privately Held.
Steve Asmussen - “Ricardo has a ton of confidence in the horse and I'm glad to see him rewarded for how much he believed in the horse. I can't say enough about the job that (assistant) Darren Fleming and (exercise rider) Abel Flores have done with this horse here at Oaklawn. His race in the Rebel (third) was good and we felt like he came out of it good. He had a little break and came out for the Arkansas Derby training great. I am very proud of the outcome today. Obviously, we want him to come out of it very good. With him doing better at longer distances, it's easy to dream about the Derby."
Ricardo Santana, Jr. - "First of all Thank God and thanks to the owner and the trainer. This is a really nice horse. The first time he run here and broke his maiden, he run really good. He had a really good trip but I had to go wide. He make a nice run in the end. Last time it was 14 horses, today it was 12 horses. Steve told me to be patient, be patient, because you're going to have a lot of horses. It worked out worked out really good. I hope I have the same trip in the Kentucky Derby."
Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar Farm - Steve has had a lot of confidence in this horse from the start. He’s been a very high strung horse in the beginning. I liked what Steve had done with some of the Tapits he’s had in the past. So that’s why we sent Creator to him. Didn’t want to send him to New York to where he’d run with the big guys. We felt like he was the kind of horse that if you pressed him too hard too early he might come apart on you.
“Steve has done a really good job with him. Some of the Tapits can be very high strung. We just felt that Steve has done real well, and in the Midwest particularly, with bringing them along without putting them up against the toughest maiden races at Saratoga.
NOTE: Creator is first horse WinStar sent to Asmussen. They have sent a couple others to him since.
"The first two starts (both on turf) Steve felt like wanted to give him experience without getting dirt in his face. Again, I give him a lot of credit. But then when we ran him at Churchill and he was second, I thought he’d win his next start. Something down in New Orleans just didn’t click with him. In those two races he was heavily favored, got in trouble in both starts, jammed up, pace was slow, nowhere to go.
“We decided to send him to Oaklawn, and then he ran extremely well. And then we were back where he hoped to be Thanksgiving weekend at Churchill. Even in the maiden races were experience. That’s why we didn’t have any problem going into the Rebel when he did finally break his maiden. Because he’d had plenty of starts. Not every horse has to break its maiden first time out.
“I love his style. I love the way he’s been brought along. I think based on today’s performance that he would have a very good chance (in the Kentucky Derby).
“Gettysburg ran very well. The track was playing to speed. I thought when he made the lead over Cupid, I really thought he had a big chance. He ran hard, very hard. He’s a developing type horse. He shipped to Sunland, shipped back to Florida, shipped to Lexington, shipped here. We’ll probably regroup with him and look for something like the Peter Pan.”
NOTE: Walden named Creator for God.
Donnie K. Von Hemel, second with Suddenbreakingnews - “I was a little concerned in the far turn, he was going nowhere, and was struggling a little bit. I was wondering if he was even going to fire at all. Finally, when he got straightened out down the lane, he did come with his move. Sure looks like more ground is better for us.”
Luis Quinonez, second on Suddenbreakingnews – “We finally got a decent trip. I felt like he wasn’t handling the track, like he was climbing. In the middle of the turn for home I didn’t think he was going to run anywhere but I got him clear and he gave me a great finish. If he would’ve gotten ahold of the track he would’ve run right on. He ran well, no excuses. I’m excited and proud of this horse. We will see what’s next.”
Ron Moquett, third with Whitmore - “The horse looks like he’s good. After the replay, I was glad to see how good he was. He nearly went down. Watch the replay, about 100 yards out, the outside horse came over on him and he stumbled and nearly went down.”
“We belong in the Kentucky Derby. It’s what I said before the race, whoever got the best trip could win. Today, Ricardo Santana and Creator and Steve Asmussen got the better trip.(Whitmore) is not a ‘hanger’ or all that stuff. He keeps overcoming every race.”
Irad Ortiz, Jr., third on Whitmore – “He always breaks sharp, a couple of horses tried to get to the rail pretty quick in front of me and I was in between horses and I clipped heels. I think they cost me a better position and unfortunately cost me a better position down the stretch. Maybe I could’ve got 2nd but things happen. That’s horse racing. He’s still a nice horse with full of potential. He’s such a honest horse as well. He comes to run not matter what. If we would’ve had a cleaner trip, we might have had a better finish.”
Brad Cox, fourth-place Dazzling Gem: “What do we get? Ten points? I was very pleased with the race. Joe kind of chased them a little bit going to the backside. Good ride, moved him around the turn, all opportunity to run down the lane and run a good race. We’ll see how he comes out of it.” Dazzling Gem will be trained at Churchill as if he’s running in the Kentucky Derby, Cox said.
Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Bob Baffert, beaten favorite Cupid, 10th: “We were done early, basically. I think the fractions probably took a toll on us. But that’s racing. I know Martin wanted to get him in the clear, which he did. But, unfortunately he got in the clear and they were rolling right along.”
Jockey Martin Garcia, beaten favorite Cupid, 10th – “It wasn’t his day today. He was too excited. I was trying to save him and tried to get a position with him. I started on the rail and slowly moved him out and was second. When I asked him to go at the 3/8ths, he wasn’t responding. We had nowhere to go. I asked him and he didn’t respond. Next time.”