LEXINGTON, KY – Churchill Downs Racing Club’s Warrior’s Club made his plethora of owners joyous with his late move in the stretch to upset the field in Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland.
Breaking well from post 4 under Luis Contreras at 23-1 odds, Warrior’s Club settled in mid-pack while Westwood led through early fractions of :22.40 and :45.15. As the pacesetter began to fade in mid-stretch, the 8-5 favorite Limousine Liberal overtook him to his outside, while Warrior’s Club snuck in along the rail. Clear of Westwood, the two foes hooked up, with Warrior’s Club inching away late while also holding off a late bid from Awesome Saturday on the far outside. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee crossed by a neck in a final time of 1:22.61 for the 7-furlong main track event.
“I got a really good trip and the horse helped me every step of the race,” Contreras said. “I had a horse coming inside of me – I just tried to keep my horse pretty confident and keep my spot. He gave me everything in the stretch.”
Limousine Liberal took second by another neck over Awesome Saturday. Behind them, Behavioral Bias caught a fading Westwood just before the wire to take fourth. Conquest Windycity faded to sixth over Heartwood, with First Premio and Crewman completing the order of finish. Shut The Box was scratched.
Warrior’s Club’s trip to the winner’s circle was his first at Keeneland. The well-traveled 4-year-old son of Warrior’s Reward improved his overall record to 22-5-4-4 with career earnings of $518,504 for his vastly-numbered ownership group.
“The name describes him about as well as anything – he’s a warrior, I tell you,” Lukas said. “He’s just a wonderful little horse to train. I always kid people that a used car salesman could train him; he’s not hard to train at all. He gives you every effort, every time. And to make 200 people (ownership group Churchill Downs Racing Club) happy is really special.”
Warrior’s Club returned $48.80 to win, $16.20 to place, and $8 to show. Limousine Liberal brought back $3.20 to place and $2.60 to show, while Awesome Saturday paid $5 to show.