LOUISVILLE, KY – Treadway Racing Stable’s Maraud exploded late in the stretch and held sway to take Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 American Turf Stakes presented by Ram Trucks at Churchill Downs.
Breaking from post 10 under John Velazquez, Maraud was unhurried and settled mid-pack while Speed Franco posted fractions of :23.79, :48.38, and 1:13.96. Swinging very wide off of the far turn in hand but with plenty of foes still in front of him, Maraud rallied steadily in front of the roaring crowd while the early speedsters seemed to hit an invisible wall. Velazquez continued applying pressure to Maraud until the cleared the field in the shadow of the wire, and the Todd Pletcher trainee crossed in first by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:47.52 for the 1 1/16-mile race over yielding turf.
“I didn’t think my horse liked the soft turf,” Velazquez said. “I took a chance, took him back, and tried to make one run with him. He showed me something and came through for me. The turf is very, very soft now after all the rain.”
Captivating Moon and Untamed Domain put forth strong late bids and crossed at the exact same time in second, resulting in a dead heat. Arawak appeared poised for an upset but hung late in the stretch and took fourth by a length over the 3-1 favorite River Boyne. Sixth went to Channel Cat ahead of Speed Franco and Tigers Rule, with Inscom, Admiralty Pier, Threeandfourpence, Pont Du Gard, Dragon Drew, and Tiz Mischief completing the order of finish. Rushing Fall scratched in favor of running in yesterday’s Grade 3 Edgewood Stakes, while Alternative Route was a late scratch.
Maraud’s win was his second graded stakes score (following the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes in March) and improved his record to 7-4-0-2, with his lone off-the-board finish coming last out in April’s Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland. The 3-year-old son of Blame increased his career bankroll to $337,770.
“A few hours ago, it looked like it was holding up pretty well, but it just kept raining and raining,” Pletcher said. “At that point, we were already committed to running, and this would be the softest ground he’s been on. I thought Johnny gave him a clever ride. He kind of kept him off the rail on the middle of the turf course, which seems to be a little bit better, and he put in a big run. At Keeneland, he just didn’t seem to handle the course, wasn’t quite himself that day. We were concerned about the weather today and I’m glad we decided to take a shot.”
Maraud returned $18.80 to win, $8.40 to place, and $6.20 to show. Because of the dead heat for second, Captivating Moon brought back $5.40 to place and $6.40 to show, while Untamed Domain paid $4.60 to place and $5.80 to show.