Gunpowder Farms’ Divisidero joined the great Wise Dan (2013-14) and Einstein (2008-09) as a repeat winner of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. In fact, the Buff Bradley trainee was scoring for the third straight year on Kentucky Derby Day, having landed the American Turf (G2) as a three-year-old in 2015.
The late-running Divisidero had to overcome a slow pace on a rain-affected course, but his love for the Churchill turf was evident as he caught the perfect-trip Beach Patrol in time. The son of Kitten’s Joy is now perfect from three starts on the Matt Winn lawn.
Sent off as the 7-2 second choice off a near-miss in a Keeneland allowance, Divisidero bided his time at the rear for Julien Leparoux. Up front, Beach Patrol was dictating terms, attended by Enterprising, through tepid splits of :24.51, :50.69, and 1:15.45. The course was rated “good” officially, but the times and better efforts of horses in outer paths indicated it had absorbed quite a bit of moisture.
Beach Patrol put Enterprising away at the top of the stretch and had all his pursuers off the bridle – except Divisidero. Taking a wide path leaving the far turn, he may have found the sweet spot of better ground. But he delivered virtual carbon copy rallies in the American Turf and 2016 Woodford Reserve, and made it a hat trick here. He steadily gathered in Beach Patrol to win going away by a half-length, covering nine furlongs in 1:52.42.
Beach Patrol did everything right but win, pulling 2 1/2 lengths clear of Oscar Nominated. That third-placer had a tough trip after breaking tardily, and did well in the circumstances. So did Kasaqui, who kept on for fourth on the inside. If that was indeed the deeper part of the course, his performance can be upgraded. Bal a Bali was an even fifth, followed by Enterprising; Ballagh Rocks, who steadied and got stuck in traffic; Conquest Panthera; Kaigun; Flatlined; and comebacker Can’thelpbelieving, who tired after stalking early and may have been unsuited by the going.
World Approval, who had been nailed by Divisidero here last year, was scratched on account of the rain-affected conditions.
Divisidero’s second Woodford Reserve made him a millionaire with $1,047,950 in earnings from his 13-5-2-3 line. His other wins have come in a Gulfstream Park maiden and the 2015 Pennine Ridge at Belmont. He also placed in that year’s Palm Beach (G3), the 2016 Appleton (G3) and Canadian Turf (G3), and the January 14 Ft. Lauderdale (G2) back at Gulfstream.
Bred by Hinkle Farms in Kentucky, Divisidero sold for $250,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September. He was produced by the unraced Lemon Drop Kid mare Madame du Lac, from the outstanding tribe of Almahmoud responsible for breed-shaping sire Northern Dancer and Halo.
Divisidero is therefore an advertisement of the Rasmussen Factor. With his duplication of Sadler’s Wells, one cross of Nureyev, and another of their relative Lt Stevens, he sports four crosses of blue hen *Rough Shod II. Add in his matrilineal descent from Almahmoud to the Northern Dancer he gets from Sadler’s Wells and Nureyev, and he has four crosses of her too.
Quotes from Churchill Downs
Winning rider Julien Leparoux on Divisidero: “On this kind of track, you want your horse to be relaxed and make a nice run. Because the pace was so slow, we all bunched up so we were not too far behind. When I came out (for my run), he kicked home super. He ran a really big race today.”
Winning trainer Buff Bradley: “We were far back early, but that’s how the horse runs. Julien said there wasn’t much pace in there and he was correct, but I didn’t want to take the horse out of his race. We know he likes to finish, even on a slow pace. I just told Julien ‘you may just have to make your run earlier.’ Julien is a great jockey so I don’t have to tell him a whole lot.
“That was our plan to get the Keeneland race in and this was our goal. It’s always nice to win at Keeneland, but we were happy with the outcome and how Julien felt about the horse. Derby Day has really been good to us. We’re always happy to win on Derby Day before the biggest crowds.”
Jockey Florent Geroux on runner-up Beach Patrol: “There was not much speed and my horse likes to be forwardly placed. I put him on the lead and it looked like there were comfortable fractions. He was really trying. He saw (Divisidero). I went left-handed a few times and just couldn’t keep up with him. Divisidero was too fast for us today. He loves this turf course and does his best running here.”
Trainer Chad Brown on Beach Patrol: “He got a beautiful trip. No excuse. The horse that won today ran the best race. He ran terrific and our horse ran great too.”
Hall of Famer Mike Smith on the trip for third-placer Oscar Nominated: “I thought I was in a good spot. They said he pulls and doesn’t have a kick, so I stopped him leaving there and got him to settle. He settled for a little bit, but then started pulling. I kind of moved just a little bit sooner than I wanted, but he ran really well. I think that’s how he wants to be ridden. He isn’t dumb, he can learn how to do that more. He’s a smart horse.”