LOUISVILLE, KY – Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Awesome Slew battled hard to overpower The Player in deep stretch and capture Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Breaking from post 4, Awesome Slew settled in sixth early under jockey Corey Lanerie while Pinson and The Player were heads apart while setting fractions of :23.07, :46.50, and 1:11.13. Moved up in the upper stretch, Awesome Slew commenced his bid and drew even with The Player as Pinson began to fade. Awesome Slew managed to edge clear in the end, completing the mile-long main track race first by a length in a final time of 1:35.02.
“We found a good spot early behind horses,” Lanerie said. “I could see the leaders dueling and wanted to get in position on the outside to set me up for a late run. Turning for home, I had a ton of horse under me. I just want to thank (trainer Mark Casse and his team) for letting me ride this one. They did a great job to get him ready today.”
Pinson continued to fade, crossing 9 1/4 lengths back in third while holding off Harmac by a head. Gray Sky, Conquest Big E, Zulu, Warrior’s Club, and Etruscan completed the order of finish.
Awesome Slew’s record now stands at 16-5-4-3 with career earnings of $952,940. The win was a nice reward for the 4-year-old son of Awesome Again, who’d battled well all year long in several graded events but kept coming up just short of the finish line.
“The goal for this spot was to give him an easier race,” said Norman Casse, assistant to his father, Mark. “He’s been facing some of the best sprinters in the country, so he needed to build his confidence back up. He did everything well today and the distance was perfect. There’s still some discussion to be had, but right now, we’ll point towards the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.”
Awesome Slew returned $3.20 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. The Player brought back $3.60 to place and $3.40 to show, while Pinson paid $15 to show.