Divisidero conquers World in Woodford Reserve
The race was an eventful one, with Kasaqui clipping heels and going down on the far turn. Triple Threat was just behind him and lost his rider while avoiding his fallen rival. Kasaqui bounced right back onto his feet, and Triple Threat kept on galloping riderless. The jockeys involved, Paco Lopez and Jose Lezcano respectively, also got back up.
Thankfully, according to initial reports relayed by on-call veterinarian Keith Latson both horses were sound on all four legs. They got a “courtesy ride” back to the barn, where their personal veterinarians will examine them.
Dr. Latson had made an appearance on the NBC telecast even prior to the race, when Grand Tito was scratched due to a freak mishap in the paddock. Acting up and unable to be calmed in the midst of the brief rainstorm that passed through Churchill briefly, he reared, fell onto his right side, and hit his head. Twitter reports further indicated that he’d been struck by a piece of debris dislodged by the winds. The preliminary report on Grand Tito was likewise positive, but with a potential head injury, this story may have further developments.
Now, back to the happier news of recapping the race itself, and a great result for the Bradley barn that’s easy to root for – as Divisidero’s price plunge from a 15-1 morning line to 6-1 at post time attests.
Divisidero was capping a big-race double for sire Kitten’s Joy, whose 3-year-old Camelot Kitten emulated Divisidero in the American Turf. Both races featured rousing stretch battles. In that respect Divisidero had to work a lot harder than he did last year, as is only right, since this was a Grade 1 field including reigning champion turf horse Big Blue Kitten.
Midnight Storm turned on the speed through splits of :23.09 and :46.32. Bolo, who was nestled in a pocket passing the stands for the first time, quickly bulled his way up to prompt the leader. World Approval was content in his close tracking spot, and jockey Edgar Prado had Divisidero parked out in the next flight.
Turning for home, World Approval made his bid for glory, and Divisidero followed in pursuit. It took nearly the length of the stretch for him to wear down a game World Approval, but Divisidero willed his way home narrowly. After negotiating 1 1/8 firm-turf miles in 1:47.37, he returned $15.40 and advanced his scorecard to 8-4-1-2.
Slumber got up for third in his 8-year-old bow, continuing his accumulation of significant stakes credits. He outshone champion stablemate Big Blue Kitten, who wound up fifth. The Bill Mott-trained Tourist split them in fourth.
Quotes from Churchill Downs
Edgar Prado (rider of Divisidero, winner) – “He broke sharply, better than he usually does. He was also closer than usual but he was doing it so easy so I let him run. Then I took to the outside on the backstretch as that’s where he prefers to be. And when I asked him for run, he responded nicely. It was very nice race for him.”
Buff Bradley (trainer of Divisidero, winner) – “I love winning on Derby Day. He’s a really special horse. We felt really confident coming into this race. We’re realistic. We knew this was a good bunch of horses. He’s a terrific horse and I think he’s going to show what kind of horse he is this year. Edgar (Prado) thought he’d be closer. We felt he could lay a lot closer. Edgar thought there wasn’t as much speed in here. We felt like when we got to this distance we’d let him run his race. Edgar did just a beautiful job. Edgar is our man. Once we get a jock who gets along with a horse and fits a horse, we stick with him.”
Julien Leparoux (rider of World Approval, runner-up) – "He ran a big race. He put me in the race a bit more today. He was fighting in the straight. The winner is a nice horse, too. But he ran good.''
Irad Ortiz Jr. (rider of Slumber, third-place finisher) – “We saved ground, but we had to wait a little longer. He was coming late. He may have needed the race, we’ll see next time.”
Chad Brown (trainer of Slumber, third and Big Blue Kitten, fifth) – “He (Big Blue Kitten) ran like a horse that needed a race. He hadn’t started since the Breeders’ Cup (Turf [G1] October 31). Slumber ran a terrific race. If he hadn’t gotten stopped on the turn, I think he might have won it.”
Photo courtesy of Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos