Michael M. Hui’s Hogy was sent off the 5-2 favorite in Saturday’s $398,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint Stakes (G3) and got up to justify those odds with a half-length victory under jockey Florent Geroux.
The eight-year-old gelding bided his time in the rear of the field as Indy Hill set the opening half-mile through splits in :23.87 and :48.37. Black Bear tracked in second with Commend not far behind in third.
Indy Hill and Commend hooked up in the lane, with the latter sticking his head in front. Meanwhile, Black Bear backed all the way up to last and Hogy was charging hard after fanning five wide around the bend. The dark bay son of Offlee Wild flew home to collar the dueling early runners and finish 6 1/2 furlongs on the firm turf in 1:16.88, just missing the course record of 1:16.51 set by Richies Party Girl on September 13, 2014.
Hogy paid $7 for the win while making his first start for new trainer Mike Maker after being claimed from a Saratoga contest last out on August 3. Commend managed to keep his nose in front of the rallying Undrafted on the wire to take second, while Indy Hill finished another 1 1/2 lengths back in fourth. Crewman, Bondurant, Dimension, Wyeth, Mikes the Man and Black Bear completed the order under the line.
Hogy improved his record to 45-17-11-6 and joined the millionaire’s club, having now banked $1,131,927 lifetime. He boasted six other stakes wins prior to the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint, including the Colonel Power Stakes at Fair Grounds over the winter, and just missed when second in this same contest last year.
Bred in Kentucky by Dr. John E. Little, Hogy is out of the Petionville mare Floy and counts as his fifth dam Broodmare of the Year Too Bald.
Maker indicated Hogy is now under consideration for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) on November 4 at Del Mar.
KENTUCKY DOWNS TURF SPRINT QUOTES
Mike Maker, trainer Hogy, winner
“He’s a nice horse. $80,000 at Saratoga is like a stakes race. We (he and owner Michael Hui) both have been fans of those horse for a long time. As soon as the overnight was printed, he was ready to claim him. (Claim) an eight-year-old gelding for $80,000? But he’s the exception to the rule.”
Florent Geroux, jockey Hogy, winner
“It was great to have the win today, his biggest win. It was nice to upgrade (the race) to a Grade 3 this year. It was nice for the horse. He’s a gelding but he’s a nice horse, a neat horse. And he deserves everything he’s got. He always tries hard.
“I decided to go on the outside, because my horse for some reason is not very brave on the inside. He just doesn’t like to run that way. The one horse kind of spurted away from me, and my horse was able to run him down at the end.”
Michael Hui, owner Hogy, winner
“I’m pretty much a novice. I rely on a guy named Mike Maker. I tell him two things: 1) Get me out and 2) I’m just going to hide and watch. That’s really what I do. This is kind of a bucket list for me. I’m just excited. I asked Mike, ‘Does anyone claim an eight-year-old horse for $80,000. And Mike Maker is a man of few words. He really just says, ‘I like him.’ And that’s really all I needed to hear.”