Nose Separates Winner, Snapper Sinclair at Wire
By Dick Downey
It started with Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair duking it out, and that's the way it ended as the former nosed out the latter in the Risen Star Stakes.
Noble Indy, always prominent, finished third, and 7-5 post time favorite and LeComte Stakes winner Instilled Regard, who also was among the top four at each call, finished fourth.
The win gives Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm and Bravazo 50 Kentucky Derby points, virtually assuring them a place in the Derby starting gate if Bravazo stays healthy. Snapper Sinclair, a convert from turf racing, picked up 20 points to run his Derby points total to 22. Noble Indy garnered 10 points in his first stakes effort, and Instilled Regard now has 19 points after picking up five in the Risen Star.
Miguel Mena booted Bravazo home after Gary Stevens, who was named to ride Bravazo on his entry form, didn't make the trip from his base at Oaklawn Park. Mena said immediately after the race he found out "two or three days ago Stevens isn't coming" when he picked up the mount.
Longshots both, Bravazo paid $44.00 to win, $15.40 to place and $7.80 to show as a 21-1 underdog. Snapper Sinclair, inexplicably sent off at 41-1 after finishing third in the LeComte Stakes at the track last month, returned $26.60 to place and $9.80 to show. The $2 exacta paid $603.40.
The race was on from the moment the gate opened, with Adam Beschizza taking Snapper Sinclair to the lead, hounded by Bravazo. In the first turn, Noble Indy, ridden by John Velazquez, was briefly in second position on the rail but soon found himself just behind the leaders in third with Instilled Regard three wide to his outside in fourth. The group ran closely bunched through fractions of 24.15, 47.96 and 1:12.85.
Going into the far turn, Instilled Regard and Javier Castellano made a bid at the pacesetters, but in the stretch, Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair wouldn't be denied, and Instilled Regard's bid fell short. Meanwhile Noble Indy, looking a bit green, continued to run strongly and retook third position.
Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair hit the wire virtually together, and photo showed them separated by a nostril. Noble Indy was two lengths back, a neck ahead of Instilled Regard.
Those four were followed across the finish line by High North, who was beaten 5 3/4 lengths, Ebben, Principe Guilherme, Givemeaminit and Supreme Aura. Kentucky Club was scratched. Without a doubt, the race's biggest disappointment was Principe Guilherme, sent off as the third betting choice at odds of 5-2.
The top two got to the wire in race horse time with the clock stopping in 1:42.95.
Bravazo was making his seventh career start for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and was coming off a career-best win in an Oaklawn Park allowance optional claiming race in which he rallied from off the pace to win at 5-2 odds under Stevens.
The victory ran Bravazo's on-the-board record to three wins, a place and a show. From the $400,00 purse, Bravazo's share is $240,000.
Bravazo, a Calumet Farm homebred, is by Awesome Again out of Tiz o' Gold, by Cee's Tizzy.
D. Wayne Lukas: “I didn't know it was that close. (Mena)was getting into him pretty good and he drifted out. That cost us a little bit. He's a fighter. He's tough. He's got real good tactical speed. He's a horse that carries his weight well and can withstand training up to the Derby. We’ll get him back here with me and if everything checks out and goes right, then I’m going to lock up Miguel Mena. I'll pack him and the horse in Styrofoam and keep them under lock and key until the next race. Gary (Stevens) had a commitment on a live horse in the Bayakoa, so I made a phone call. I felt pretty good about getting the meet's leading rider. Hell, he knows every grain of sand on the track.”
Miguel Mena: "I found out two or three days ago that Gary wasn't coming, and he gave me the call. I talked to Bas this morning and told me how much they liked the horse. They told me to ride him with confidence. I think they expected me to be fairly close, but I didn't think I'd be that close. A couple speed horses didn't show up. The horse came out sharp and he was on the bridle nice. I was confident and had a lot of horse. The horse on the inside was hard to beat. I didn’t know if I had it, but thankfully I did. I have a nice horse.”
Steve Asmussen trainer of Snapper Sinclair (second): “Snapper Sinclair ran hard. It's disappointing to lose a photo in such a serious race, but you end up being very proud of the horse's effort.”
Adam Beschizza jockey of Snapper Sinclair (second): “I’m thrilled for the opportunity. He’s improved leaps and bounds since the LeComte. He’s probably just started to grasp the fact of the dirt. He’s putting himself in the right position. Everything went to plan today, and it just goes to show he’s a very versatile horse on both surfaces. There’s a big future in him. He’s going to win some nice races.”
John Velazquez jockey of Noble Indy (third): “That’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to teach him. I wanted to give him a good schooling and see how he reacted. In the end he ran good, just a little green, that’s it.”
Elliot Walden, CEO of WinStar Farm, owner of Noble Indy (third): “I was very pleased. Always like to win, but I think Johnny made the choice to take him off horses, and that might have cost us the race today, but I think in the long run it will be a good experience.”
Javier Castellano, jockey of Instilled Regard (fourth): “Those two horses never came back to me at all. I had the same trip as I did last time. He relaxed behind horses and I looked for that kick, but he never gave it to me today. He felt good and healthy but unfortunately today wasn’t the day.”