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LEXINGTON, KY – Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm’s King Fury brought the lightning and the thunder as he delivered a knockout punch to the tote in Saturday’s rainy edition of the $200,000 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.
Running for the first time since finishing fifth in last November’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) in his only start wearing blinkers, King Fury broke from post 9 under Brian Hernandez Jr. at 18/1 odds and settled into second-last in the field of nine 3-year-old males.
Noble Reflection broke sharply from the rail and held a length advantage over Swiftsure and Bezos through opening fractions of :22.39, :45.87, and 1:11.30.
Bezos dropped anchor heading into the far turn as King Fury and Starrininmydreams moved toward the front, and while Starrininmydreams took a four-wide approach, King Fury slipped through an opening between the pacesetters and took the lead by the 1/4 pole.
Drawing off while clearly showing a love for the sloppy (sealed) main track, the Kenny McPeek trainee crossed 2 3/4 lengths lengths clear while stopping the clock in 1:43.50.
“They were going fast, and my horse, he actually jumped away from (the gate) really, really good,” Hernandez Jr. said. “Then going around the turn, he went to hopping up and down from the dirt. Once he got down to the fence and midway down the backside, he went to traveling so good. I got to the 5/8 pole and went ‘Man, they’re in trouble from this point’ because he was just doing it the right way and traveling and taking us the whole way. He was so powerful today that I knew I would just be able to pick my way through like we did. He was just there for me the whole way.”
Unbridled Honor rallied from last to take second by 2 1/4 lengths at 20/1, triggering a $2 exacta payout of $438.20.
Starrininmydreams took third by 1 length over Proxy, while behind them came Noble Reflection, It’s My House, the 2/1 favorite Swiftsure, Hockey Dad, and Bezos to complete the order of finish. Ultimate Badger scratched.
The Lexington is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby prep race season. King Fury earned 20 points for the win, with Unbridled Honor receiving 8 for second, Starrininmydreams 4 for third, and Proxy 2 for fourth.
King Fury’s win was his second at the stakes level following last October’s Street Sense and improved his overall record to 6-3-0-0. The son of Curlin, purchased for $950,000 as a yearling, has now bankrolled $262,739.
“This has always been a really, really good horse,” McPeek said. “We were a little aggressive with him last fall. I’m going to give a big tip of the hat to the Three Chimneys team. They said, ‘Hey, send him to us for a little while. Let’s give him a little break.’ He needed it. We tested him at the highest levels and he came back bigger and stronger.”
With only these 20 earned points to his name, King Fury will need at least 8 horses ahead of him on the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard to skip the race in order for him to enter. If he doesn’t qualify, then the Preakness Stakes (G1) will be his goal, according to McPeek.
“Whether he gets in (the Derby), it’s out of our control,” McPeek said. “We’ll see how he bounces out. We think a mile and 1/4 would be great. We’ll look at the opposition. The Preakness is a great race, too. It could be either-or, but it would definitely be one or the other.”
King Fury returned $38.40 to win, $18.80 to place, and $10.20 to show. Unbridled Honor brought back $15 to place and $8 to show. Starrininmydreams paid $5.80 to show.
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