A little more than halfway through Saturday’s $200,000 Elkhorn S. (G2) at Keeneland, Say the Word looked ready to make an early three-wide bid for the lead. Settled back down by jockey Luis Saez in order to preserve his best for the final quarter-mile, the six-year-old gelding responded in kind and wound up a 1 1/2-length winner of the 12-furlong grass test.
Taking aim at the lead around the far turn, Say the Word poked his head in front turning for home and ultimately shook off a stubborn Channel Cat through the stretch to win in a time of 2:28.26 over good ground.
“For a second we were a little worried down the backside when he picked up the bridle, but Luis did a great job to get him settled,” said Josh Flores, assistant to trainer Phil D’Amato.
Owned by breeder Sam-Son Farm and Agave Racing Stable, Say the Word paid $7.20 as the second choice. Channel Cat held second by a neck over Crafty Daddy, who was followed by Fantasioso, North Dakota, Red Knight, 2-1 favorite Tide of the Sea, and the eased Epic Bromance.
This was the first stakes win in four outings since Say the Word joined D’Amato’s Santa Anita-based barn last fall. A solid third to Arklow in his debut for the barn in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) at Del Mar in November, the son of More Than Ready was 11th, beaten 5 1/2 lengths, in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) next time. However, he bounced back with a narrow loss to United in the March 20 San Luis Rey (G3).
Previously based in Canada with Gail Cox, Say the Word triumphed in the Northern Dancer Turf (G1) at Woodbine last October. He placed in three other stakes earlier in this career, including the 2018 Breeders’ S., third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, when under the tutelage of Graham Motion. His record now stands at 29-6-3-5, $609,292.
Bred in Ontario, Say the Word was produced by the Giant’s Causeway mare Danceforthecause, who’s also reared Grade 2 winner Rideforthecause. Say the Word’s third dam was the Hall of Fame filly Dance Smartly.