FRANKLIN, KY – Bloom Racing Stable’s Henley’s Joy needed the entire length of the stretch to do it, but in the end, he was able to prevail over Tracksmith to take Saturday’s $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes at Kentucky Downs.
Breaking cleanly from post 5 as the 9/5 favorite under Tyler Gaffalione, Henley’s Joy sat in midpack while the field’s lone filly, Dragic, set the pace inside of Pradar. Beginning to advance in the final 3 furlongs, Henley’s Joy hooked up with Tracksmith at the top of the stretch and began chasing down the pace-setter. Continuing to run step-for-step together, Henley’s Joy had just enough left to propel himself forward in the shadow of the wire. After the photo finish was inspected, the Mike Maker trainee was placed first by a head in a final time of 1:43.33 for the mile-long turf event.
“What a professional race he put in today,” Gaffalione said. “All the credit goes to Mike and his team having him ready for this race. He broke alertly. I think it was the addition of blinkers that put him more forwardly-placed. When I asked him for run, he moved up a tight spot on the rail and fought on hard. He could be anything. He’s really special. I’m looking forward to getting on him again.”
Though not strong enough to win, Dragic held on well for third by a 1/2-length over Jais’s Solitude, who in turn was a 1/2-length ahead of Best You Ever Seen. Sixth went to Pole Setter, while Mr Zydeco headed All American Hero for seventh. Good Good, Pradar, and Coral Legacy completed the order of finish.
Henley’s Joy’s win was his second in as many starts following a debut victory at Ellis Park on July 21. The 2-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy has now earned $258,320 for Jeff Bloom, who purchased him for $50,000 last April.
“I was anxious the whole way down the stretch, but Mike had this horse just primed and ready, and he showed what he’s made of,” said Bloom, who also won this race last year with Snapper Sinclair. “It doesn’t get old, I’ll tell you that much. I love this race.”
Henley’s Joy returned $5.60 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.60 to show. Tracksmith brought back $9.60 to place and $6 to show, while Dragic paid $4.80 to show.