LOUISVILLE, KY – Fern Circle Stables, Stud TNT, Old Friends’ Vettori Kin vectored his trajectory straight to victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Breaking well from post 3 under Julien Leparoux (subbing for James Graham), Vettori Kin settled in mid-pack while Designed for War and Roman Approval set opening fractions of :24.93, :50.34, 1:15.01, and 1:41.44 for the opening mile. Midway through the far turn, Harlan Strong made a bold three-wide bid, with Vettori Kin in close pursuit. The two Kenny McPeek stablemates cleared the leaders and dueled with each other before Vettori Kin began inching away in mid-stretch. Posting a blazing final 1/4-mile fraction of :23.67, Vettori Kin hit the wire with a 2 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 2:30.14 for the 1 1/2-mile turf marathon.
Harlan Strong stayed on well for second. Bronson nosed out third over the third McPeek trainee, the 3-2 favorite Some in Tieme, with Cartoon crossing in fifth. Roman Approval, Cooptado, and Designed for War completed the order of finish.
Vettori Kin’s victory was his first since shipping to America from his native Brazil, where he was a Group 1 winner. The 5-year-old son of Vettori improved his career record to 13-4-0-2 with earnings of $114,368 (which doesn’t include her earnings in South America).
“I’m proud of all three of my horses,” McPeek said. “I’ve tried to get (Vettori Kin) on the grass earlier this year, but the races didn’t really work out. He ran well last week over the course, so I’ll just call it a test run before this race. In Brazil and Argentina, they have a great endurance program for their horses, and I knew he would love the extra distance.”
Vettori Kin returned $8.60 to win, $5.80 to place, and $4 to show. Harlan Strong brought back $5.60 to place and $4.20 to show, while Bronson paid $6 to show.