Cupid gamely returns to win column in Indiana Derby

Profile Picture: James Scully

July 17th, 2016

Cupid was put to the test before prevailing in Saturday’s $512,000 Indiana Derby (G2), repelling the challenge of runner-up The Player to score by three-quarters of a length. The gray son of Tapit travelled wide from an outside post while dueling for the early lead and lugged in significantly during the stretch, running on the wrong lead before holding on in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Rafael Bejarano picked up the mount on the Bob Baffert-trained colt, who captured the Rebel (G2) when making his stakes debut in mid-March but had been well-beaten in his two previous stakes starts. His overall record now reads 7-3-1-0 with $880,553 in earnings.

Favored at 8-5 among 12 sophomore rivals, Cupid squared off with 35-1 outsider Pilot House through opening splits in :23.44 and :46.75. Cocked and Loaded was up close chasing the pace in third.

Cupid shrugged off the early challengers nearing the completion of the far turn, accelerating to a clear lead as he straightened for home. The Player, who stalked a couple of lengths back in fourth during the early stages, advanced to loom a menacing threat entering the stretch.

The Player seemingly had his rival measured to the inside by midstretch but Cupid failed to surrender as he battled determinedly, maintaining a slight edge to the wire. The winner stopped the teletimer in 1:43.30.

The Player, who followed a May 14 maiden win with an entry-level allowance victory at Churchill Downs on June 3, performed admirably in his stakes bow, finishing 2 ¾ lengths clear of Star Hill in third. The runner-up and third-placer were both off at 4-1 odds.

Whateverybodywants, Seeking Blame, Pilot House, Cocked and Loaded, Discreet Lover, 5-2 second choice and Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine, Call the Colonel, Takeittotheedge and Torrontes came next under the wire.

Owned by the Coolmore connections of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith, Cupid was purchased for $900,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. He was bred in Kentucky by JKG Thoroughbreds LLC.

Cupid is out of the Grade 2-placed Beau Genius mare Pretty ‘n Smart, making him a half-brother Grade 3 winners Ashley’s Kitten and Heart Ashley and stakes victor Indianapolis.

Photo of Cupid courtesy of Bob Newell/