American Patriot (War Front) wins the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland on 4.14.2017. Javier Castellano up, Todd Pletcher trainer, WinStar Farm owner.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has now surpassed the record for stakes victories at Keeneland Racecourse with a new total of 51, saddling WinStar homebred American Patriot to win Friday’s Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile. The 4-year-old son of War Front, ridden by Javier Castellano, lay mid-pack until the far turn, then was just able to run down a very good Heart to Heart to win by a half-length on the wire. American Patriot covered a mile on the firm turf in 1:34.70, allowing Pletcher to surpass his mentor D. Wayne Lukas’ record of 50 stakes victories at the Lexington oval.
“It was a good setup: a lot of speed in the race,” Castellano said. “I spoke to (trainer) Todd (Pletcher about the race) early this morning. I rode with a lot of patience, a lot of confidence. I took my time and turning for home, I let him go a little bit. The way he finished was tremendous. I really like this horse. I rode him here when he broke his maiden on this surface (on April 10, 2016). I had a lot of optimism that he would get it done today.”
Not only does the victory break a record for Pletcher, but it is also American Patriot’s first Grade 1 triumph. Previously, the colt had won the G3 Kent Stakes, and opened 2017 with an allowance win at Gulfstream Park.
“We always felt like he had a lot of potential,” Pletcher said from Florida. “He was unlucky to not win a Grade 1 last year. He’s trained exceptionally well all winter (at Palm Beach Downs in Florida). He has run well at Keeneland before so we knew he would like the turf course.”
Surprising the frontrunning Heart to Heart, California-bred What A View sprang to the front of the field front the get-go. When Heart to Heart wasn’t able to get the lead, he got out a bit in the first turn, but was quickly straightened out to track the leader from second. Western Reserve was along the outside in third, with Bolo at the rail in fourth. Behind Bolo at the rail was Blacktype, and behind him at the rail was American Patriot, under very patient handling by Castellano near the rear of the field in the early going.
Through early fractions of :23.25 and :47.18, What A View maintained a 1 1/2-length lead over Heart to Heart, but the latter was kept out wide on the course so as not to lose enthusiasm approaching the far turn. As Bolo began to make his move on the inside, begging for room, so did Conquest Panthera on the outside, moving up to striking position. Heart to Heart ranged up alongside What A View in the late stages of the far turn, taking the lead just as the field turned for home. Farther back, Castellano had angled American Patriot to the outside of Blacktype, two paths off the rail and between horses in the lane.
American Patriot lugged in onto a rival a bit at the top of the stretch, but once he finally changed leads the colt started running very well. Heart to Heart had sprinted two lengths clear of the field but was staggering in the final sixteenth, allowing Conquest Panthera and American Patriot, sandwiching the leader, to make a strong late challenge. Heart to Heart had enough left to fend off Conquest Panthera but not American Patriot; American Patriot sailed under the wire a half-length in front of Heart to Heart. Conquest Pahthera was just back in third, and Ballagh Rocks was up late to finish a close fourth.
“He’s the kind of horse you don’t want to fight – doesn’t matter how fast you are going,” said Julien Leparoux, aboard runner-up Heart to Heart. “You have to ride him like that. We had a good post. In a way I wish I was inside, but in another way at least I could dictate my own race and see what happens. He was relaxed, he was comfortable the whole race and made his run. He ran a great race. He’s a lovely horse to ride. I wish he’d won a Grade 1 because he deserves it.”
Bred in Kentucky by Kenny Troutt’s WinStar, American Patriot is out of a winning daughter of Tiznow. Bought back at the Keeneland September sale for $ 850,000, the colt required three starts to break his maiden, but did so over the Keeneland lawn. He won the G3 Kent three starts later, then ran a good third in the G1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. Overall, American Patriot boasts a record of five wins from 11 starts, with earnings of over $ 450,000.
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