LOUISVILLE, KY – Roy Gene Evans’ homebred Chief Cicatriz broke through for his first career graded stakes score on Saturday, dominating his six foes in the stretch to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Breaking well from post 3 under James Graham as the tepid 2.3-1 favorite, Chief Cicatriz stalked Smart Spree‘s early pace through opening fractions of :21.30 and :44.02. Shifting out wide through the far turn, Chief Cicatriz grabbed the lead in midstretch and drew off with authority. The Shawn Davis trainee crossed 6 1/4 lengths ahead of a late-moving Mr. Crow in a final time of 1:08.44 for the 6-furlong main track sprint.
“We were perfectly drawn on the outside,” Graham said. “We let the speed go in front of him and he settled and got in a nice rhythm. When we turned for home, he just poured it on. He was very impressive tonight.”
The rest of the field was spread out nearly as much, with Wilbo taking third 2 3/4 lengths behind Mr. Crow and 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Awesome Saturday. Fifth went to Shadow Tracer, with Heartwood and a spent Smart Spree completing the order of finish.
Chief Cicatriz’s win was his fifth career stakes score following victories in smaller events at Turf Paradise and Sunland Park. With a record of 11-8-0-0, the 5-year-old gelded son of Munnings improved his lifetime bankroll to $286,881.
“This horse got into trouble when he ran on Derby Day (finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes),” Davis said. “He had some excuses in some of his other races, too. Tonight, we knew we would see what he’s all about. He was coming into the race in great shape and we saw the real Chief Cicatriz.”
Chief Cicatriz returned $6.60 to win, $4 to place, and $3 to show. Mr. Crow brought back $3.80 to place and $2.80 to show, while Wilbo paid $2.80 to show.