December 9, 2021

Finley’sluckycharm, Warrior’s Club narrowly prevail in Keeneland stakes

Finley'sluckycharm (second from inside with black hat) registered her first Grade 1 tally in the Madison and will likely be pointed to the Humana Distaff (G1) on the May 5 Kentucky Derby Day undercard (c) Coady Photography

Close finishes punctuated a pair of stakes races on Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes Day undercard at Keeneland.

Finley’sluckycharm parlayed a forwardly-placed trip into a nose tally in the $300,000 Madison (G1), gamely scoring in an exciting finish as the top four finishers were separated by less than a length on the wire. Winner of the Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) at Keeneland last fall, the 5-year-old mare left the starting gate as the 5-1 fifth choice among 10 distaffers.

With Brian Hernandez Jr. up, Finley’sluckycharm closely tracked as American Gal established fractions in :21.96 and :44.31. The dark bay daughter of Twirling Candy swung out into the stretch and advanced to take a short lead, but a host of challengers were lining up behind her. Miss Sunset was never far back stalking the action and just missed reeling in the winner at 7-1, taking runner-up honors by a nose over the late-running Lewis Bay, who left the gate as the 3-1 choice. American Gal never quit trying along the inside and wound up another head back in fourth.

It was another half-length to Salty, who was followed by Ami’s Mesa, Tequilita, Ms Locust Point, Natural Wonder and Teresa Z. Berned, Mines and Magic and Sailor’s Valentine were withdrawn.

Owned by Alpha Delta Stables, Finley’sluckycharm notched her sixth career stakes victory and her scorecard now reads 15-10-3-0, $788,368. She notched four stakes tallies last year but never fired when completing the season with a ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Del Mar. The Bret Calhoun trainee should appreciate the championship event being at Churchill Downs this fall, recording four of her stakes wins at the Louisville, Kentucky track.

Finley’sluckycharm was exiting a runner-up finish in the grassy Mardi Gras at Fair Grounds on February 13.

Warrior’s Club kicked off the stakes action with a 23-1 upset in the $250,000 Commonwealth (G3), grinding his way to the lead in the stretch and edging 8-5 favorite Limousine Liberal by a neck. Owned by the Churchill Downs Racing Club and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the 4-year-old colt recorded his first graded stakes victory and was guided by Luis Contreras.

A Kentucky-bred son of Warrior’s Reward, Warrior’s Club stalked in third as Westwood showed the way through splits of :22.40 and :45.15. Conquest Windycity, who left the starting gate at 3-1 along with Westwood, tracked the pacesetter in second but began to give away after turning for home.

Warrior’s Club was blocked in upper stretch but found clear sailing and overhauled Westwood just inside the eighth pole, surging to a short lead. Awesome Saturday had rallied to be a threat on the far outside and Limousine Liberal was trying hard between horses, but they could not catch the winner as Warrior’s Club determinedly held in the final strides.

Warrior’s Club completed the 7-furlong distance in 1:22.61 and the dark bay colt has now earned $518,504 from a 22-5-4-4 career line.

Limousine Liberal wound up a neck better than 16-1 Awesome Saturday and it was another 1 ¼ lengths back to Behavioral Bliss in fourth. Westwood, Conquest Windycity, Heartwood, First Premio and Crewman completed the order of finish.

Warrior’s Club captured the restricted Spendthrift Stallion in 2016 and finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). Runner-up in the Bet on Sunshine and Bet on Sunshine last year, the $25,000 yearling purchase logged a convincing allowance tally at Oaklawn Park two back and was exiting a sixth in the Hot Springs.

The $200,000 Shakertown (G3) for turf sprinters lacked suspense, with Bound for Nowhere accelerating to the fore leaving the far turn and proving much the best through the stretch. Owned and trained by Wesley Ward, the 4-year-old colt notched his first stakes triumph with the four-length decision and left the starting gate as the 8-1 sixth choice among 12 runners with Julio Garcia.

After tracking in second through splits of :21.82 and :45.31, Bound for Nowwhere stepped 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03.77 on the soft turf. He’s now won 4-of-6 career starts, the only setbacks being a fourth in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot and a 10th in the Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last summer, and increased his bankroll to $214,275.

Buccehero took second at 7-1, 2 ¼ lengths better than 7-5 favorite Disco Partner in third. It was another half-length to fourth-placer Commute. Latent Revenge, Kid Perfect, Loose on the Town, Big Handsome, Will Call, Zapperini, Tombelaine and Mooose came next under the wire.

A bay son of The Factor who sold for $310,000 as a yearling at the 2015 Keeneland September sale, Bound for Nowhere returned from a seven-month layoff with an allowance win on Turfway Park’s Polytrack on March 3. He broke his maiden at Turfway at 15 months ago and won an entry-level turf allowance at Keeneland last April in his second career start.