March 25, 2023

Super Stock back in business in Ellis Park Derby

Super Stock wins the Ellis Park Derby (Photo by Coady Photography)

Ellis Park hosted five stakes Sunday, anchored by the $200,000 Ellis Park Derby. Here’s an overview of the action.

Ellis Park Derby

Super Stock, one of the heartwarming stories on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, regained the winning thread as the even-money favorite in the Ellis Park Derby.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen for his father, Keith, and co-owner Erv Woolsey, the Arkansas Derby (G1) upsetter had failed to make the trifecta in his past three. Super Stock wound up 16th in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in both the May 31 Texas Derby and July 2 Iowa Derby.

A change of tactics here by Ricardo Santana Jr., putting him in the game early, helped engineer a form turnaround. Tracking in second as Colonel Bowman carved out splits of :23.78, :47.85, and 1:11.99, Super Stock pounced turning into the stretch. The Dialed In colt opened up by 3 3/4 lengths and polished off 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.89.

There Goes Harvard kept on for second, and Sermononthemount was along from last for third. Colonel Bowman tired to fourth, followed by Hanks and Starrininmydreams.

Super Stock’s scorecard now stands at 12-3-2-2, and he’s nearing seven-figure territory with $957,677 in earnings. After a maiden-breaking victory in last summer’s Texas Thoroughbred Futurity for colts and geldings, the bay placed in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), Iroquois (G3), and Street Sense S. He resurfaced with a fourth in the March 13 Rebel (G2) that set him up for his 12-1 coup in the Arkansas Derby.

Ellis Park Juvenile

Asmussen’s even-money favorite Costa Terra had to settle for a slightly frustrating, yet promising, third in the $124,750 Ellis Park Juvenile. The debut winner by hot freshman sire Gun Runner appeared full of run while trying to organize himself in the stretch. Finally focused to split rivals late, he came up just shy of Carolyn Wilson’s Roger McQueen and Lucky Boss, and jauntily passed them right after the wire.

Roger McQueen, a 4.80-1 chance after an Ellis maiden romp, was in the firing line throughout with Adam Beschizza. The Larry Rivelli pupil vied for the lead with Desert Ruler, put him away, and kept battling to a half-length decision over Lucky Boss in 1:23.67 for seven furlongs.

The second stakes winner for freshman sire Unified, after Churchill Downs’ Debutante S. queen Behave Virginia, Roger McQueen sports a mark of 3-2-0-1, $112,640. Wilson purchased the colt for $530,000 at OBS March. In his unveiling at Churchill, he was third to Lansdowne and Gunite, runner-up in Saturday’s Saratoga Special (G2). Roger McQueen is expected to return to the Twin Spires for the Sept. 18 Iroquois, the first scoring race on the Road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby.

Ellis Park Debutante

Randy Patterson’s Verylittlecents wired the companion $125,000 Ellis Park Debutante in a faster 1:23.32, while looking like a very raw recruit meandering beneath Joe Talamo. The 2 1/2-length winner had to survive a claim of foul from Chris Landeros aboard runner-up Golden Sights. Sire Goldencents could be benevolently neutral since he had the exacta.

Coming off a maiden win here for Randy Morse, Verylittlecents has earned $111,980 from her 3-2-0-0 record. The bay was a debut fourth at Churchill to Pretty Birdie, the future Schuylerville (G3) winner.

Groupie Doll

Don Alberto Stable’s blueblood Matera relentlessly pursued and finally prevailed over defending champion Lady Kate by a neck in the $123,679 Groupie Doll S. The lone also-eligible, an 8.20-1 chance, drew in when trainer Brad Cox scratched stablemate Lady Rocket. Stuck in the far outside post 12, Matera worked out a trip courtesy of Florent Geroux. Not so lucky was Cox’s 9-5 favorite, Dreamalildreamofu, who was shut off from her rail post and effectively done early in a toss-out 11th.

Matera negotiated the mile in 1:36.41 to advance her resume to 7-4-0-1, $225,190. All of her losses came earlier in her career when based in Southern California. Unbeaten since switching to Cox, she captured an Oaklawn Park allowance in her first start for the barn. Matera unfortunately was sidelined by a cut, but returned triumphant in her stakes debut in the July 7 Mari Hulman George Memorial.

Black-type is all the more significant for the regally bred $1.4 million Keeneland September yearling. As a daughter of Tapit and Grade 3 queen Miss Macy Sue, Matera is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 star Liam’s Map and Grade 3 hero Not This Time, both sires. She can enhance her broodmare value further with graded credits, the next step on the ladder.

Audubon Oaks

Columbine Stable’s Carribean Caper remained perfect in her stakes debut in the $99,250 Audubon Oaks. Under Colby Hernandez, the even-money favorite chased Magic Quest through fractions of :23.43, :46.26, and 1:09.85 and wore her down inside the final furlong. Carribean Caper edged one length clear while clocking seven furlongs in 1:22.09.

Now 4-for-4 with a bankroll of $177,490, the Al Stall trainee has advanced methodically from a Fair Grounds maiden through her allowance conditions at Keeneland and Ellis. Plans call for the daughter of Speightstown to stick to one-turn events in her own age group, with the Sept. 25 Dogwood (G3) at Churchill Downs and Oct. 23 Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland her logical spots.