J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Buy Sell Hold, freshman sire Violence’s first winner in her Keeneland maiden romp, showed that she’s got heart to match her speed when duking it out in Thursday’s $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile.
Outdueling McErin after a stretch-long battle at Churchill Downs, the Steve Asmussen trainee held the fast-finishing Amberspatriot by a neck. Buy Sell Hold thereby gave Violence his first stakes winner as well.
Bettors had a hard time separating Buy Sell Hold and McErin, a view that presaged how most of the race unfolded. McErin, the Wesley Ward colt went off slightly favored at 7-5, with Buy Sell Hold nipping at his heels at 3-2. She was also chasing the front-running McErin, who hustled after not being too sharp out of the gate, through an opening quarter in :22.15. At the top of the stretch, Buy Sell Hold accosted McErin and gained the upper hand when reaching the half-mile mark in :45.39.
But McErin fought back on the inside, and the filly had to redouble her efforts beneath Florent Geroux. Buy Sell Hold was implacable, wearing McErin down approaching the wire to finish five furlongs, on a track labeled fast, in :58.33.
The 10-1 Amberspatriot thwarted the favorites’ exacta. Third much of the way and trying to rally on the inside, the daughter of freshman sire Awesome Patriot angled out around the two battlers and speared late to miss by a neck.
McErin just lost the runner-up spot by a nose. Waki Patriot, another Awesome Patriot, checked in fourth, giving all of her human connections half of the superfecta. Like Amberspatriot, she was bred by Brandywine Farm, owned by Donna Hancock and Charles Brown, and trained by John Hancock.
Unfortunately, there was a spill on the far turn. Baytown Lex clipped heels and fell, unseating jockey Carson Sullivan. Daily Racing Form’s Nicole Russo tweeted that both horse and rider were back on their feet, and Baytown Lex was jogging with the outrider. The stewards immediately posted the inquiry sign, and after reviewing the video, disqualified fifth-placer Trickizar to last for causing interference.
Buy Sell Hold, now two-for-two, has bankrolled $96,140. Bred by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and Stretch Run Ventures, the gray sold for $67,000 as a Keeneland September yearling.
Asmussen trained her dam, the stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Melody Lady, and more memorably, her second dam Lady Tak. Heroine of the 2003 Test (G1) and 2004 Ballerina (G1), Lady Tak amassed more than $1.1 million in earnings. Asmussen paid tribute to her in the postrace quotes below.
Quotes from Churchill Downs
Winning trainer Steve Asmussen on Buy Sell Hold: “She’s a very special filly. The second dam is Lady Tak, one of my favorite horses of all time and a millionaire. This filly started out at my dad’s place in Laredo, Texas, and he did a phenomenal job with her. She came over for only her second race and acted very professional and was ready to go.”
Winning rider Florent Geroux: “She’s very nice. She’s well-bred and well-behaved. That’s why she won today. She broke sharp and got herself into a good position despite the post (8). She showed a lot of heart and ability today.”
Jockey Paco Lopez on runner-up Amberspatriot: “It was a tough trip, but she ran good. I wanted to come from second or third like last time and win, but I wound up taking a hold in the stretch and then going a little wide. She didn’t run much in the beginning and maybe it was my fault for taking her out late or her going wide, but I thought she was best.”
Jockey Julio Garcia on McErin, third as the favorite: “Missed the break; that didn’t help. I had to use [him] and [he] got tired late…fast…but I think [he] will go better on turf.”
One race earlier on the Thursday before Derby, i.e. “Thurby,” card, Nelson McMakin’s Pleuven justified 2-1 favoritism on a turf course he loves in the $56,340 Opening Verse. Trained by Phil Sims and well handled by Corey Lanerie, the French-bred son of Turtle Bowl rated just off the pace before rolling by 2 1/2 lengths from Take the Stand.
Pleuven was a close second to Thatcher Street in the 2016 Opening Verse in his second start back from a year-long layoff, setting himself up for a score in last summer’s Wise Dan (G2) He added the Cliff Guilliams at Ellis Park in September and concluded the season with a runner-up effort, again to Thatcher Street, in the River City (G3) here.
In his 2017 debut, Pleuven was third in a Keeneland allowance in which Divisidero, the defending champion in Saturday’s Woodford Reserve (G1), was second. By moving forward off that tightener in the Opening Verse, Pleuven gained revenge on Thatcher Street, who wound up third. This victory advanced his resume to 18-7-3-4, $365,652.
Quotes from Churchill Downs
Winning trainer Phil Sims: “The Wise Dan (June 17) will be the next logical start. He won it last year. He loves the soft going. He’s a French-bred, so the weather was not a concern. He’s just a hard-knocking little horse.”
Jockey Corey Lanerie on the victorious Pleuven: “After we broke I could see the two horses on the lead going fast. We just decided to stay inside of them and try to get my horse to relax. Once I got him outside, he just took off.”
Jose Lezcano, who rode runner-up Take the Stand: “He ran a good race and I got a very good trip. I got a little pressure from (eventual fourth Western Reserve), but he kicked on and then we got caught. The winner is a nice horse.”
Hall of Famer Bill Mott on Take the Stand: “I thought he ran well. It was softer ground, but the main thing is that it was a big improvement over his last race. He went too fast (last time when unplaced in Divisidero and Pleuven’s allowance) and he got pressed today as well, but it was an OK race.”