FRANKLIN, KY – Qatar Racing’s Guildsman rallied strongly in the late stages to win Wednesday’s $500,000 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs.
Guildsman broke from post 8 at 9/1 odds under the meet’s leading rider Tyler Gaffalione and settled well off the pace near the rear of the field. Maven was hustled to the lead out of the gate but soon sat off and stalked as Johnny Unleashed posted opening fractions of :21.47 and :44.77.
Johnny Unleashed held command at the top of the stretch, but Island Commish took over at the 1/8 pole and looked home free, but a hustling Guildsman came flying in the late stages and stole the lead in the final jumps before crossing a neck clear.
The Brendan Walsh trainee completed the 6 1/2-furlong firm turf sprint in a final time of 1:15.87.
“That was nice,” said Gaffalione, who ended the six-day meet with 11 wins, most of any rider. “I’m so thrilled for Brendan. He’s been helping me for a long time. We’ve been trying to hook up with this (horse). The distance was key today, just a little extra ground. He kept coming and really proved his stuff today. It was a great race all around.”
Island Commish held off a late-moving Souper Dormy by another neck for second, while 3 lengths behind them, Flap Jack was a head each in front of the 2/1 favorite Turned Aside and Old Chestnut.
Another Miracle, Johnny Unleashed, Fore Left, Embolden, Maven, and Competitive Saint – who was hit hard shortly after leaving the gate and never recovered – completed the order of finish.
Kimari scratched after her connections opted to run in Tuesday’s Music City Stakes, where she finished third. Race Driver, Mishko, and Olson did not draw in from the Also Eligibles list.
Guildsman’s win was his second straight following the Tom Ridge Stakes at Presque Isle Downs and improved his lifetime record to 11-3-1-3 with $254,638 earned. The 3-year-old French-bred Wootton Bassett gelding spent 2019 racing overseas and was a narrow third in the 2019 Coventry Stakes (G2) at the prestigious Royal Ascot meet.
“I guess they just thought maybe he’d fit here,” Walsh said. “The 5 and the 5 1/2 (furlong) races, he’s been running well but they’re a little bit on the short side for him, maybe. We were going 6 at Presque Isle last time and the 6 1/2 today was right in his wheelhouses. I’m not actually surprised. He’s a really talented horse.”
Guildsman returned $21.80 to win, $10.60 to place, and $6.40 to show. Island Commish brought back $19.80 to place and $12 to show, while Souper Dormy paid $18.20 to show.