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LEXINGTON, KY – Trainer Wesley Ward’s superstar turf sprinter Golden Pal made every pole a winning one in his return to American racing with perhaps his most impressive victory yet in Saturday’s $200,000 Woodford Stakes (G2) at Keeneland
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Golden Pal was the 1/2 favorite exiting post 2 under John Velazquez in his first start since finishing seventh in August’s 5-furlong Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) at York in Great Britain.
Firecrow gave closest chase through opening fractions of :21.51 and :44.53 before making his bid at the top of the stretch and briefly holding command.
Golden Pal, however, was seemingly just waiting for Velaquez to give the green light because once asked, he responded by drawing off to a 2 1/4-length score, completing the 5 1/2-furlong good turf sprint in 1:03.12.
“He was very game,” Velazquez said. “I never rode him (before), so I asked Julio (Garcia, exercise rider and jockey for Ward). He said, ‘Just put your hands down and he’ll run for you; even if he gets passed, he’ll run for you.’ I left him alone and when the other horse came to him and put the head in front, I was like, ‘Hey, we got to come back and run.’ I got after him and he gradually got away from the other horse. It took me two or three jumps to engage him back into the race, and after that, he was pretty good.”
March’s Al Quoz Sprint Stakes (G1) winner Extravagant Kid bounced back from a last-out 14th in the Darley July Cup (G1) at Newmarket in Great Britain to finish second for trainer Brendan Walsh.
“We are delighted,” Walsh said. “We can never be disappointed with this horse. He ran great again. The winner is a very, very good horse. Extravagant Kid is a model of consistency.”
County Final, Johnny Unleashed, Inhalation, a heartbroken Firecrow, and Charcoal completed the order of finish.
Golden Pal’s win was his second from 3 starts this year, which began for him in July’s 5 1/2-furlong Quick Call Stakes (G3) at Saratoga, and improved his overall record to 7-4-2-0 with $779,056 earned. The Florida-bred 3-year-old Uncle Mo colt, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) over this same course and distance, is the likely favorite heading into the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) November 6 at Del Mar.
Golden Pal returned $3 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. Extravagant Kid brought back $3 to place and $2.40 to show. County Final paid $3.40 to show.
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