In a dominant front-running performance, the Churchill Downs Racing Club’s Warrior’s Club was the 2 1/2-length winner of Sunday’s inaugural $ 300,000 Spendthrift Stallion Stakes at Churchill Downs. Open to juveniles sired by any stallion that stood at Spendthrift Farm, the race is the first of its kind, and inspired a full field of 12 to go to the post. Under Miguel Mena, Warrior’s Club, by Warrior’s Reward, covered seven furlongs over the fast main track in 1:23.31 to break his maiden for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
“I’ve had some great moments in racing before, so it’s exciting for me, but nothing like it is for those people,” Lukas said of the Churchill Downs Racing Club members that flooded the main track after the race. “I’m so gratified that I could give so many people an enjoyable afternoon and that much happiness, that’s the big thing.”
Comprised of 200 individuals who each put in $ 500 at the beginning of the season, the Churchill Downs Racing Club overflowed the winner’s circle for the win photo. Earlier this year, Lukas selected Warrior’s Club as the trainee for the group, and though he had not won a race prior to Sunday’s victory, the CDRC had traveled to Ellis Park and Keeneland, as well as to Churchill Downs, to watch the colt earn a second and two thirds from five career starts.
Breaking out of the gate sharply for Mena, Warrior’s Club was still nearly fourth between horses while racing through the chute. By the time the field joined up with the main track, Warrior’s Club had built a half-length advantage along the inside of Cool Arrow, with On Probation and Lawton tracking the pace intently from third. Through fractions of :23.10 and :45.90, that order remained relatively unchanged.
As the field rounded through the far turn, Cool Arrow moved up to challenge Warrior’s Club for the lead, and the two were head-and-head at the top of the lane. Cool Arrow managed to put his nose in front briefly, but Warrior’s Club had something left in reserve, drawing away late in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Cool Arrow was simply second-best, and Lawton held on to be third. All Right closed to be fourth.
“The horses that had been beating him are really quality horses,” Lukas said. “We didn’t give a lot for this horse but that doesn’t mean a thing. When they can run, they can run but the horses that had beaten him cost a lot and had great pedigrees so he’s a blue-collar horse. He fits the scenario of the club perfectly. He’s kind of an over-achiever and he’s doing his job and that’s all you can say.”
Bred in Kentucky by John O’Meara, Warrior’s Club was originally sold for $ 25,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale. An RNA for $ 47,000 at the OBS 2-year-old in training sale in April, the colt was later purchased privately by Lukas for the CDRC. Fifth in his first start at Churchill, Warrior’s Club ran a pair of thirds at Ellis Park before struggling to run ninth at Churchill. He rebounded well to run second in a maiden special weight at Keeneland on Oct. 9, an effort which lend to his win in the Spendthrift Stallion Stakes. Warrior’s Club (6-1-1-2—$ 107,696) banked $ 86,490 for the Churchill Downs Racing Club and $ 60,000 for his breeder.
Designed to benefit both racehorse owners and breeders, the $ 300,000 purse was structured with a unique approach to award $ 150,000 to the owners of the placed horses, with the other $ 150,000 allocated to award the breeders of the first-through-fourth-place finishers.
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