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Locked won the 2023 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, after outdueling a game The Wine Steward late. Losing to the 3/5 favorite was the 1st in 4 starts for The Wine Steward.
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Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Walmac Farm’s Locked overcame a wide trip and then put away a stubborn The Wine Steward to post a half-length victory in the 110th running of the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) for 2-year-olds.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Locked completed the 1 1/16 miles over a fast main track in 1:45.06. It is the fourth victory in the race for Pletcher and the second time he has won the race in consecutive years having done it with Forte last year and We Miss Artie and Carpe Diem in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Ortiz won the race in 2019 on Maxfield.
The victory also gave Pletcher a sweep of Keeneland’s premier fall 2-year-old events as Candied won Friday’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. Other trainers to win those races in the same year are Carl Nafzger (1986), D. Wayne Lukas (1995) and Pat Byrne (1997).
With the victory, Locked earned a spot in the starting gate for the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) to be run Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
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Breaking from the outside post 9, Locked was five wide going into the first turn and settled in midpack as Baytown Chatterbox and Just Steel led the field through fractions of :24.47 and :48.23. Ortiz kept Locked in the clear and on the final turn made a sweeping move at the leaders that propelled him on even terms with The Wine Steward at the top of the stretch.
Locked opened a narrow advantage in the upper stretch with The Wine Steward gaining a narrow advantage back in deep stretch only to have Locked go by in the final yards.
A Keeneland sales graduate, Locked is a Kentucky-bred son of Gun Runner out of the Malibu Moon mare Luna Rosa. With a record of 3-2-0-1, Locked has earned $428,400, of which $358,050 came Saturday.
Locked returned $3.52, $2.52 and $2.54. The Wine Steward, with Luis Saez aboard, returned $3.46 and $3.18 and finished 3¾ lengths in front of Generous Tipper, who paid $4.70 to show under Brian Hernandez Jr.
It was another neck back to Northern Flame in fourth with West Saratoga, Just Steel, Awesome Road and Baytown Chatterbox following in order.
Todd Pletcher (winning trainer of Locked)
On now having two-turn experience going into the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1):
“He’s a colt that we always felt like ‘the further, the better.’ He kind of got a little bit of two-turn experience in that sort-of two-turn mile race at Saratoga (his maiden win Sept. 1), which is always a difficult race. But I thought he was super-impressive at Saratoga, and he’s just been a colt that’s done everything right since Day 1.”
On experience from the head-to-head battle in the stretch with runner-up The Wine Steward:
“You like to think it moves them forward. He was hung out very wide on both turns. He didn’t have a real easy trip, but he’s talented enough to overcome it.”
Mike Maker (trainer of runner-up The Wine Steward)
“Second best today. I thought the top of the lane would open. I think a very good horse beat us – that was it.”
On advancing to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
“Well if you hold my feet to the fire right now, it would be a yes. I gotta talk to (co-owner) Peter Proscia.”
Luis Saez (rider of runner-up The Wine Steward)
“Pretty good trip. He broke from there pretty nice. He came to the straight and he was fighting. He just got a little tight. He got beat by a good horse. That horse had a long race already. He got a little tired but next time we’re going to be all right.”Brian Hernandez Jr. (rider of third-place finisher Generous Tipper)
“We had a good trip. We followed the winner. Went around the second turn and we were able to save a little ground and then hopped out, and we just weren’t quite able to run them down. My horse ran a good race. He handled the distance for only being his fourth start right from a maiden race at Ellis. In a Grade 1, he ran a respectable race.”
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