Keep Quiet silences Ticonderoga in Bourbon, stamps Breeders’ Cup ticket

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October 9th, 2016

Capping a superb weekend for Mark Casse’s juvenile squad, Keep Quiet turned in a polished and professional performance to defeat the green-as-grass Ticonderoga in Sunday’s $250,000 Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland. Gary Barber’s colorbearer thereby booked his spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) according to the race’s “Win and You’re In” provision.

Keep Quiet became the fourth Casse two-year-old to win a graded stakes this weekend. On Saturday, stablemate Classic Empire paid his way into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) with an emphatic decision in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), and the Woodbine duo of Gale Force and Golden Hawk swept the Mazarine (G3) and Grey (G3), respectively.

Making his fifth career start in this spot, Keep Quiet had an experience edge to go along with his natural talent. The French-bred son of Elusive City has blossomed since stretching out to two turns, crushing a Saratoga maiden before finishing second to Made You Look in the August 31 With Anticipation (G2).

Keep Quiet franked that form here, but note that assistant trainer Norman Casse believes Keep Quiet was a shade unlucky to lose that day. Florent Geroux was getting acquainted with him in the With Anticipation, and Casse pointed out that the Frenchman knew his compatriot better in the Bourbon.

Geroux certainly worked out a great trip aboard the 4-1 second choice. As the 118-1 longshot Cold Snack Thirty went ahead after a quarter in :23.22 and reached the half in :47.78, stalked by the 20-1 All Right, Keep Quiet was in a tracking third. Meanwhile, the 4-5 Ticonderoga had forfeited early position by getting off a beat slow. That wouldn’t be his last rookie mistake.

Keep Quiet made his move when All Right took over from the spent Cold Snack Thirty at the six-furlong mark in 1:13.54. Royal by Nature also emerged into contention turning into the stretch and briefly headed Keep Quiet. But Keep Quiet kept on strongly to take command, repelled Royal by Nature, and completed 1 1/16 firm-turf miles in 1:44.92.

Ticonderoga (far left in green silks), who had worked himself into striking range on the outside, appeared more interested in gawking at the Keeneland grandstand. His head cocked starboard, he lugged in persistently on his left lead. Jockey Javier Castellano organized him well enough to make forward progress late, but it wasn’t enough to threaten Keep Quiet.

Ticonderoga settled for second, 1 1/4 lengths adrift. The $850,000 son of Tapit and millionaire Keertana clearly has ability. After just missing by a head on debut to eventual Summer (G2) winner Good Samaritan, Ticonderoga romped at Belmont Park. This marked his third start, and first stakes attempt, so trainer Chad Brown has plenty of time to mold him. [I wrote this before seeing the quotes, so be sure to look at Castellano’s lofty opinion of him expressed below.]

With the form tie-ins to both the With Anticipation and Summer, the season’s first two graded races in this division, the Bourbon result looks solid. All the more so since Bird’s Eye View, third behind Made You Look and Keep Quiet in the With Anticipation, was third again in the Bourbon. He edged the stalling Royal by Nature by a neck.

Keep Quiet was an astute $45,455 Arqana weanling purchase by Justin Casse. He has now bankrolled $243,550 from his 5-2-1-0 line.

Out of the Sillery mare Luminosity, Keep Quiet is a half-brother to three other stakes performers. Chief among them is Grade 2-winning producer Little Treasure, herself the dam of Grade 2 heroine and multiple Grade 1-placed More Chocolate. Both scored their signature wins in Southern California, as did another close maternal relative, Grade 2 vixen Rhythm of Light. If Keep Quiet lives up to his family’s reputation, he should find Santa Anita congenial.

Quotes from Keeneland

Assistant trainer Norman Casse on Keep Quiet: “I was a little scared that last sixteenth of a mile. This horse had a really good month in Saratoga. He was breezing really well coming up to the race. He rewarded our confidence in him today.

“This is a super talented horse. We were disappointed in him early; we figured him out a little bit. He wants to be comfortable early. He didn’t want to be rushed off his feet sprinting. Flo (jockey Florent Geroux) gets along with him really well. We just let him be him.”

Winning rider Florent Geroux: “I wanted to make sure he broke good today. Last time (in the With Anticipation), he broke a little bit flat-footed, a little slow, and I wanted to make sure he got away very nicely from the gate so I could take a better position in the race.

“We had a good trip. I was just behind two horses. From there, he settled nicely, relaxed. When the horses came next to him in the stretch, he was very brave and showed a lot of heart.”

Jockey Javier Castellano on runner-up Ticonderoga: “I had a good trip but there was a lot of traffic in the race. My horse started lugging in a little bit at the top of the stretch and in the last part. He was straightforward to the eighth pole but maybe he was looking around at the Grandstand or something. He started lugging in sideways and it was a little difficult to ride him in that part.

“He is a great horse. He is developing. It was a big step to move forward today. He hung in there so well mentally (except for) the last part.

“There is a lot of potential with him. He is going to be one of the best horses in the country.”


Photos courtesy Keeneland/Coady Photography