LEXINGTON, KY – WinStar Farm’s American Patriot, seventh at mid-stretch, caught Heart to Heart in the shadow of the wire to win the 29th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile by a neck.
“It was a good setup, a lot of speed in the race,” said winning jockey Javier Castellano. “I spoke to (trainer) Todd (Pletcher) 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.”
With the victory, Pletcher moved past D. Wayne Lukas for most stakes victories in Keeneland history by a trainer, with 51. It was the second time he’s won this race, doing so in 2015 with Jack Milton.
“We always felt like he had a lot of potential,” said Pletcher. “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.”
Castellano notched his third Maker’s 46 Mile victory, having scored with Jack Milton and Get Stormy in 2011.
“I really like this horse,” Castellano said. “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.”
What a View set the pace under Tyler Baze and led the field of 11 through fractions of :23.25, :47.18, and 1:10.98, with Heart to Heart in closest pursuit.
At the quarter pole, rider Julien Leparoux sent Heart to Heart after the leader and took command at mid-stretch. Meanwhile, Castellano had worked American Patriot into the clear and eventually wore down Heart to Heart, who had to settle for the runner-up spot for the second year in a row.
“I wish he’d won a Grade 1 because he deserves it,” said Leparoux. “He’s the kind of horse you don’t want to fight – doesn’t matter how fast you are going. He was relaxed, he was comfortable the whole race, and he made his run. He ran a great race. He’s a lovely horse to ride.”
Conquest Panthera, who bettors sent off last at 27-1, missed second by a nose.
“I had a great trip,” said jockey Robby Albarado. “I was positioned where I wanted to be, and in the turn for home, I was in a great spot. It was a huge race for him.”
Ballagh Rocks, who the Dudes picked on top in the race preview, was another neck back in fourth and was followed in order by Blacktype, What a View, Western Reserve, Inspector Lynley, Bolo, Bondurant, and Calculator.
Racing as the 7-2 favorite, Bolo sat 2 1/2 lengths off of the leaders through the first 1/2 mile but was never a threat turning for home.
“He really never got a hold of the footing,” said jockey Mike Smith. “When he didn’t take hold of it early, I knew I was in trouble.”
In posting his first Grade 1 victory, American Patriot covered the mile on a firm turf course in 1:34.70. The win was worth $180,000 and increased American Patriot’s earnings to $475,050 with a record of 11-5-0-3. American Patriot broke his maiden here last April with Castellano aboard. A Keeneland sales alum, American Patriot is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of War Front out of the Tiznow mare Life Well Lived.
American Patriot returned $23, $10.80, and $7.20. Heart to Heart brought back $5.40 and $3.80, while Conquest Panthera paid $13 to show.
Ginny DePasquale (assistant to Pletcher): “(American Patriot has) been training very well and Todd had a lot of confidence in him. Javier gave him a very patient ride and timed it perfectly. It just worked out perfect.”
Brian Lynch (trainer of Heart to Heart): “You can’t ask for any more than he gave us today. He even tried to stick his nose out at the wire. I think Julien gave him an unbelievable ride, and (Heart to Heart) laid it down too. It’s just one of those things in racing. We did all the grunt work and somebody capitalized on it in the last jump.
“We’ll get him back to the barn, bed him deep tonight and let him have a real good night’s sleep. Then we’ll get put our heads together and come up with a game plan. I think coming back quick after the effort he put in today certainly wouldn’t be an option.”
Carla Gaines (trainer of Bolo): “It appeared that he didn’t take to the surface. Usually he has a strong hold of the bit but he never picked it up. When (jockey Mike Smith) asked him to run, he almost looked like he was stumbling.”