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LOUISVILLE, KY – In a race devoid of early speed, Calumet Farm homebred Cellist led every step of the way to win Saturday’s second running of the $150,000 Audubon Stakes for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs by 3/4 of a length over Palazzi.
Cellist, ridden by Julien Leparoux and trained by Rusty Arnold, ran 1 1/8 miles over “good” turf in 1:51.53.
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Breaking from post five in the field of seven, Cellist set dawdling early fractions of :25.54, :51.20, and 1:16.12. Royal Prince drew within a length at the top of the stretch, but Cellist widened his lead in the stretch and withstood a late charge from Palazzi.
“In his last start, he didn’t get away from the gate that well,” Arnold said. “Today, he got away great and settled into a nice rhythm the entire way around there. I thought he ran great races in all 3 of his prior starts. He had trouble in his first start and his last race. He put it all together today.”
Sent to post as the 5/2 second choice, Cellist paid $7.60, $4.80, and $3.20. Palazzi, under Tyler Gaffalione, returned $4 and $2.80. Royal Prince was another 2 1/2 lengths back in third under Florent Geroux and paid $2.60 to show.
“I knew we were in trouble when I saw the 1/2-mile time,” said Palazzi’s assistant trainer David Carroll. “(Cellist) had a pretty easy lead up front and we ran a good effort, but just too much to do with the soft pace.”
Hidden Enemy, 2/1 favorite Like the King, Holy Vow, and Cave Hill completed the order of finish. Haddassah was scratched.
Cellist earned $91,140 for the win and improved his career record to 4-2-1-0 with $131,740 earned.
Cellist, a son of Big Blue Kitten out of the English Channel mare Cello, was bred in Kentucky by his owner Brad Kelley, who heads Calumet Farm.
The Audubon, named after the nearby Louisville neighborhood, could serve as a prep for the $150,000 War Chant for 3-year-olds at 1 mile on turf on Saturday, June 26.
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