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2023 Turf Classic Stakes Replay | Up To The Mark Proves Clearly The Best For Pletcher, Repole
Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

2023 Turf Classic Stakes Replay | Up To The Mark Proves Clearly The Best For Pletcher, Repole

Up to the Mark won the 2023 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs for owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher, the same connections of the Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Forte who scratched earlier in the day. Is this the best older turf horse in America? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Up to the Mark became a Grade I winner in style as he romped to a 3 3/4-length victory in the 37th running of the $1 million Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic for 4-year-olds and up.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Up to the Mark completed the mile and an eighth over a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:47.31. It is the third victory in the race for Pletcher and second for Ortiz.

Pletcher won with Colonel Liam in 2021 and English Channel in 2006. Ortiz won with Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar in 2019.

Bye Bye Melvin set the pace with fractions of :23.91, :48.03 and 1:11.65 while getting token pressure from 2022 race winner Santin as Up to the Mark raced in midpack while in the clear.

On the far turn, Up to the Mark began picking off horses and hit the top of the stretch four wide and with a full head of steam. He surged to the front approaching the eighth and was not threatened in the run to the finish.

Now three for four on the grass, Up to the Mark is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Not This Time out of the Ghostzapper mare Belle’s Finale. The victory was worth $601,400 and increased his earnings to $829,550 with a record of 9-4-0-2.

Up to the Mark returned $7.26, $4 and $2.96. Hong Kong Harry (IRE) rallied for second under Flavien Prat and returned $4.12 and $2.88 and finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of Spooky Channel, who paid $3.32 to show under Joel Rosario.

It was another head back to Ocean Atlantique with Santin, Wolfie’s Dynaghost, Earls Rock (IRE) and Bye Bye Melvin.


Irad Ortiz Jr. (jockey, Up to the Mark, winner) – “The hole opened up coming down the stretch, and he went on. He didn’t do anything wrong today, from the minute we warmed him up. He’s getting better every race. He can come from off the pace. He’s developing a good style, since he started racing on the grass (in January).”

Todd Pletcher (trainer, Up to the Mark, winner) – “It unfolded beautifully. He got a really good trip, was able to save a little ground. The horse relaxed nicely and had a good turn of foot when called upon. We’ll probably go to the Manhattan on Belmont Day (June 10) next.”

Joel Rosario (jockey, Spooky Channel, third) – “He put in a run at the end. The horse who won just kept moving forward and we couldn’t catch him. I feel like you need to be closer with the way the track is playing. I let him put himself wherever he wanted to be — as long as he’s happy, it’s good. He did everything I asked to do, they just kept pulling away up front, but he put in a nice run.”