John C. Oxley’s Noble Bird took charge of the pace and never looked back taking Saturday’s fourth running of the $ 175,000 Lukas Classic (Listed) at Churchill Downs in walk-the-dog fashion under jockey Julien Leparoux.
The son of Birdstone covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.03 earning himself his second stakes victory under the Twin Spires. His first triumph came in last year’s edition of the $ 500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I).
Noble Bird broke on top leading a slow first quarter-mile in :24.02, and a half-mile in :48.01, with this year’s Foster ‘Cap victor Bradester sitting not too far behind in second. At the top of the stretch Bradester loomed dangerously and made a bid in the late stages, but Noble Bird was able to keep him at bay and held off a late charge from eventual runner-up Hawaakom to take the Lukas Classic by 1 ½ lengths. Bradester faded to third.
The victory was worth $ 104,160 which increased the 5-year-old’s earnings to $ 944,945 with a record of 18-6-4-0. The Lukas Classic was Noble Bird’s first trip to the winner’s circle since an eye-popping 11 ¼-length triumph in the Pimlico Special (GIII) on May 20, which also was won in wire-to-wire fashion.
Noble Bird, a chestnut horse born on April 6, 2011, is a son of Birdstone out of the Tiznow mare Anyhow and was bred in Kentucky by Jack Swain.
Noble Bird rewarded his backers with payoffs of $ 7.40, $ 5 and $ 3.20 at odds of 5-2 in the field of nine older horses. Hawaakom returned $ 10 and $ 5 with Bradester finishing back in third and paid $ 3.80 to show.
Fear the Cowboy, Honorable Duty, Rocket Time, Bullards Alley, Breaking Lucky and Natchez completed the order of finish.
Earlier on the card, L.T.B. Inc. and Hillerich Racing LLC’s One Mean Man prevailed in the 40th running of the $ 100,000 Jefferson Cup (listed) for 3-year-olds, which was taken off the turf and run over dirt because of inclement weather.
Ridden by Robby Albarado and trained by Bernie Flint, One Mean Man stalked the early pace and defeated Zapperini by 1 ½ lengths and clocked 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.23. Albarado holds the Jefferson Cup record with five wins in the race.
One Mean Man won for the sixth time in 16 starts and the $ 62,000 winner’s share jumped the Mizzen Mast colt’s earnings to $ 418,597. The Jefferson Cup was his second straight stakes victories. Previously, the Kentucky-bred won the $ 200,000 Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park on Aug. 27.
He paid $ 5.20, $ 3 and $ 2.20 as the 8-5 favorite in the compact field that was reduced to five after five late scratches.
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