LEXINGTON, KY – Robert Baron’s Promises Fulfilled was all heart on Friday, outgunning a pair of veteran graded stakes winners in deep stretch to win the Grade 2, $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland.
The Phoenix is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Promises Fulfilled receiving an automatic berth in the TwinSpires Sprint at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Sent postward along the rail under Luis Saez as the 3/5 favorite, Promises Fulfilled quickly took command while Heartwood sat along his outside through opening fractions of :22.50 and :45.09. Still in command by a narrow margin as he exited the far turn, Promises Fulfilled was set down for the run home but was soon met with a challenge from Whitmore to his outside. The challenge seemed to ignite a new flame within Promises Fulfilled because he dug in and fought back gamely, refusing to yield. The Dale Romans trainee hit the wire first by a head in a final time of 1:09.05 for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“He’s a really nice horse,” Saez said. “When he broke from the gate, he did everything perfect. He always fires. When he came to the straight, he didn’t let the other horse pass. He always wants to win.”
Saying that Limousine Liberal had a poor trip would be a disservice to the venerable veteran who was squeezed shortly after breaking from the gate, squeezed a second time midway down the backstretch, and was forced to change paths three times in the stretch while searching in vain for running room. Though he closed quickly, it wasn’t quick enough, and he was forced to settle for third, just a 1/2-length behind Promises Fulfilled and Whitmore. Heartwood faded in the stretch to take fourth, while Dalmore was never a factor and completed the order of finish. Distinctive B was scratched.
Promises Fulfilled’s win was his third straight, all in graded events, since cutting back to sprinting following a spring spent on the Kentucky Derby trail. The 3-year-old son of Shackleford now carries a record of 10-6-0-2 with a bankroll of $920,280. The near-millionaire will need to spend some of those earnings if he wants to compete in the Breeders’ Cup; he was not nominated, so his connections will need to pay the $100,000 supplemental fee.
“We’ve got a little time to think about it, talk about it,” Roman said. “I don’t think he’s restricted to going 3/4 of a mile. I think he’ll be good at any distance. We’ll talk about it. We’re just happy to get this big win. This is a good enough win in its own right. Not worrying about the next one yet.”
Promises Fulfilled returned $3.40 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show. Whitmore brought back $2.60 to place and $2.10 to show, while Limousine Liberal paid $2.10 to show.