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LOUISVILLE, KY – Donegal Racing’s Arklow rallied from off the pace to spring a 15-1 upset by a length over Good Samaritan in the 26th running of the Grade 2, $300,000 American Turf presented by Ram Trucks for 3-year-olds.
Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Mike Smith, Arklow covered the 1 1/16 miles on a “good” turf course in 1:44.64. It was the third win in the race for Smith, who won the first running in 1992 on Senor Tomas and again in 1994 with Jaggery John.
“I’m just happy to be riding for these owners,” Smith said. “They’re good friends of mine.”
Oscar Performance, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, led the field of 10 through fractions of :23.85 and :48.46 while Arklow raced near the back of the pack. Approaching the far turn, Arklow began to pick up the leaders and was swung five wide entering the stretch. Arklow struck the front at the 1/16th pole and was unchallenged the rest of the way.
“I thought there would be some speed,” Cox said. “He sat mid-pack and got a little wide in the first turn, which could’ve been a good thing with how the turf has been playing. Mike put him in perfect position and he kept running.”
Big Score was a head behind Good Samaritan for third. It was another three lengths back to Conquest Farenheit, who was followed in order by Parlor, Ritzy A.P., Made You Look, Holiday Stone, Kitten’s Cat, and Oscar Performance, who was sent off as the betting favorite.
The victory was worth $176,700 and increased Arklow’s earnings to $244,987 with a record of 7-2-1-1. The Kentucky-bred son of Arch out of the Empire Maker mare Unbridled Empire is unbeaten in two grass races after not qualifying for the Kentucky Derby.
“We wanted to try and make him a Derby horse, but it didn’t pan out that way with the points,” Cox said. “I saw a mile and 1/8th maiden race at Keeneland on the grass opening weekend. He ran a big race that day, and obviously, this was a step up today. He had a great work here last weekend on the turf. It’s only the second time he ran on the turf, so I was really proud of how well he ran today.”
Arklow returned $32, $12.80, and $7.80. Good Samaritan brought back $4.80 and $3.40, while Big Score paid $4.
Jockey Mike Smith, Arklow – “It was just like they told me. Honestly, they said, ‘Mike, you’ll be somewhat forward early.’ They had told me they wished it was a mile and a 1/4. Brad said, ‘Don’t be afraid to get brave with him.’ If I got him clear, he said go ahead and let him start going a little early. He said he’d keep going, and he was 100% right. I’m glad they told me that. Normally on the grass, you want to wait and make one run. If I had done that, I probably would have lost the race.”
Jockey Joel Rosario, Good Samaritan – “The track was a little tiring and soft, then we were wide. It took him a little time to get going after he stumbled a little bit early, but he ran a really good race.”
Jockey Javier Castellano, Big Score – “Had a good trip, a perfect trip. Just at the last part, he didn’t have it. He never has been on ground this soft. I think that’s what cost him the race.”
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