FRANKLIN, KY – Ward Pitfield’s Get Western lept to the front early, set a measured pace, then had more than enough left in the tank to jump across the wire for his first stakes score in Thursday’s $250,000 Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs.
Breaking from post 6 at 8/1 odds, Get Western put himself on the lead and set an opening 1/2-mile pace in :47.82, while The Tabulator gave closest chase in his turf debut. Opening up as the field navigated the sweeping far turn, Get Western hit the stretch call 4 lengths in front and held on late under confident handling for the win. The Charlie LoPresti trainee completed the 1 mile and 70-yard event over the firm course in a final time of 1:43.96.
“He’s one of those horses where he’s so athletic,” said Hernandez, Jr. “Today, he was there for me every pole, every step of the way. He never traveled like he was going to get beat. Around the turn, it’s a little chewed up, but he’s so athletic, I was able to put him so close to the fence that he was able to get on the good path. He was just cruising. Turning for home, when I called on him, he picked it up again. I didn’t even worry about anything else. I thought, ‘If a horse beats him from this point, they really have to be running.'”
Cullum Road rallied in the stretch to get up for second by 3/4 of a length over the late-closing trio of Space Mountain, Zero Gravity, and Choo Choo. Sixth went to Multiplier, while behind him came Hot Springs, Lamartine, and an empty The Tabulator.
The 6/5 favorite Mr. Misunderstood, was positioned in mid-pack until halfway through, when he appeared to completely run out of steam and fell back steadily, outkicking only Flight Time by the finish.
“He won’t race here again,” said Mr. Misunderstood’s trainer Brad Cox. “You try once, he didn’t care for it last year (when third in last year’s Tourist Mile Stakes). Obviously, he didn’t care for it today. That’s what we’re hoping. His last race was pretty good, and to run like that. We’ll draw a line through this one and give him another shot somewhere.”
Catapult, Master Merion, and Undrafted were scratched.
Get Western’s win was his second straight following a similar gate-to-wire victory at Ellis Park on July 28 and improved his record to 12-4-0-1. The 4-year-old gelded son of Get Stormy, purchased for just $1,000 as a yearling, has now earned $281,342. The win guaranteed him a future stall at Old Friends Farm upon retirement.
“The Breeders’ Cup signs (were) waving a little and he jumped them,” Hernandez, Jr., said regarding the leaping action Get Western displayed late. “It just goes to show you how easy he did it, because he was just paying attention to his surroundings. He was just cruising up there on the lead and that’s what caused him to jump the signs.”
Get Western returned $19.80 to win, $10.40 to place, and $7 to show. Cullum Road brought back $6.20 to place and $5.20 to show, while Space Mountain paid $10.40 to show.