Cocked and Loaded opens Road to the Kentucky Derby series with Iroquois win
Emmanuel Esquivel picked up the mount on the Larry Rivelli-trained colt, who stretched out to two turns and completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.94.
A son of Colonel John, Cocked and Loaded captured his first two starts, including the June 5 Tremont at Belmont Park, before finishing sixth as the favorite in the July 25 Stanford (G3) at Saratoga. The bay was exiting a fifth as the 6-5 chalk in the August 22 Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) on Polytrack.
“I think he’s a real special horse,” Rivelli said. “He handles everything with stride. Manny did a great job. I told him to ride him with confidence and let him do what he needs to do. I’m just really proud of the horse. Hopefully we’ll dance the big dance (the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) if he’s healthy.”
“At the half-mile pole I got to the ones in front pretty easily and when I just pushed him a little he took off with me,” said Esquivel, who earned his first stakes victory at Churchill Downs one day after winning his first race at the track. “And at that point I didn’t want to try to take him back again. I just wanted to keep on going. We felt comfortable turning for home, so he ran huge.”
The Richard Ravin and Patricia’s Hope LLC colorbearer rebounded as the 9-1 fifth choice among 11 rivals, scoring by two lengths. Rated R Superstar, who was exiting a five-length maiden tally at Ellis Park for Kenny McPeek, offered a run into contention on the far turn and gamely chased the winner through the stretch drive, claiming second at 11-1 odds.
Unbridled Outlaw wound up a tough-luck third after being checked repeatedly, closing boldly up the rail in the stretch to be another length back on the wire.
Conquest Windycity, the 2-1 favorite, finished a non-threatening fourth and next came Baychimo, Star Hill, Meeteetse Fly, Twirling Cinnamon and Missle Bomb.
Condominium and Expected Ruler, who dueled through opening splits of splits of :22.62 and :46.29, retreated to be next-to-last and last. Dolthat Dance was scratched.
Cocked and Loaded stalked the pace in fourth during the early stages, seven lengths back after the opening quarter-mile, and Esquivel posted his third win of the day with the well-timed ride. Bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte, Cocked and Loaded sold for $16,000 last fall as a Keeneland September yearling and has now earned $250,840 from a 5-3-0-0 record.
Longer distances and steeper competition could pose a legitimate hurdle, but Cocked and Loaded is out of an unraced mare by Kentucky Derby-winning sire Malibu Moon. And sire Colonel John recorded his biggest victory in the 1 ¼-mile Travers (G1).
Cocked and Loaded now tops the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 10 points.
LARRY RIVELLI, trainer of COCKED AND LOADED (winner): “I wanted to run at home, and I always figured he could run long. He’s such a cool horse. He rates and has a good stride. When he ran on the Poly we were scratching out head wondering what was wrong with him was, but he just didn’t like the synthetic surface. He trains well on it; he just can’t run on it. That’s why I trained him on the turf going into this race.
“Today he made that move at the three-sixteenth pole and he was just galloping. We’ve always liked this horse a lot and people were down on him because of his last race but he just can’t handle the Polytrack. I’ve always thought the world of him; I think he’s a real special horse. He has a great mind it looks like. He handles everything with stride.
“Manny [Esquivel] did a great job. I told him to ride him with confidence and let him do what he needs to do. I’m just really proud of the horse.
“Hopefully we’ll dance the big dance if he’s healthy. We’ll train straight up to the (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile). No concern with the two turns because of the way the horse is. He’s got twice the size of his body stride.”
EMMANUEL ESQUIVEL, jockey of COCKED AND LOADED (winner): “It feels great, I couldn’t ask for anything better than this. I was a little worried there at the beginning, since I’m new here and everything. The agent I have, Terry Miller, he has the business and he gave me the opportunity. I broke out and I wanted to be close to the lead without really forcing him, and on the backside he was kind of laying off a little; nothing bad but at the half-mile pole I got to the ones in front pretty easily and when I just pushed him a little he took off with me and at that point I didn’t want to try to take him back again, I just wanted to keep on going. We felt comfortable turning for home so he ran huge. Seeing his best races it looks like he really likes the dirt, he likes it better than the Polytrack.”
KENNY McPEEK, trainer of RATED R SUPERSTAR (second): “I thought he was going to get to [Cocked and Loaded] eventually.. He was kind of grinding and Calvin (Borel) thought he got a little bit tired, but it was a solid race and I was glad to see he rated. I was a little worried that his first two races he showed a bunch of speed, but Calvin did a nice job rating him from the outside. He’s a nice horse with a big future.”
CALVIN BOREL, jockey of RATED R SUPERSTAR (second): “He ran a big race. We had the 10-hole and I had to ease him back a little bit more than I wanted. He ran real big first time going long. I don’t think he’ll beat ‘em next time.”
DALE ROMANS, trainer of UNBRIDLED OUTLAW (third): “That’s the most tenacity I’ve ever seen out of one of my horses. He had all the right in the world to pull himself up and run last and he didn’t do it.”
COREY LANERIE, jockey of UNBRIDLED OUTLAW (third): “He was much the best, much the best. It was a bad ride. The three-horse (Expected Ruler) stopped so fast in my face and the horse on my outside saw it coming. I had horse and he wasn’t going to let me out. He just did his job but I just got stuck there. The minute I got outside and started going again with momentum, somebody got me in a trick bag again. What a horse he is, though, to come back after all that. He ran real good.”
MARK CASSE, trainer of CONQUEST WINDYCITY (fourth as the 2-1 favorite): “I thought he ran well. He kind of shied from the horses at the start. He did a similar deal when we ran him at Saratoga, and then he made up a lot of ground and then flattened out. But for his first race on dirt, I thought it was good. He made a nice middle move.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey of CONQUEST WINDYCITY (fourth as the 2-1 favorite): “I thought he tried hard and it kind of set up perfect for him; there was a lot of pace. He ducked in leaving the gate. Being a young horse he left there and ducked in a little bit. That kind of gave him a lot to do and he had to come from way back. He took a lot of dirt today. I thought he tried hard.”
Cocked and Loaded photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography