Ground-saving trips were the key to success in a pair of grass stakes on the undercard of Breeders’ Cup Friday.
The action-packed afternoon opened with the $150,000 Golden Mile S. for two-year-olds racing one mile over the Del Mar lawn. Nine youngsters faced the starter, with Astronomer the longest shot in the field at 30-1. But to the astonishment of bettors, Astronomer delivered the winning rally under a perfect ride from internationally acclaimed jockey Ryan Moore.
Entering off a maiden win racing one mile on turf at Golden Gate Fields, Astronomer displayed tactical speed on Friday, saving ground along the rail in third place while fellow longshots Detroit City and Thirty Four Coupe carved out quick splits of :22.53, :46.89, and 1:11.32. Then in the homestretch, Astronomer slipped inside of rivals and forged on to beat Optimising by half a length in 1:35.37.
Optimising edged Degree of Risk and Boise in a three-way photo finish for the minor awards, while Nobals, Birth of Cool, Ready to Purrform, Detroit City, and Thirty Four Coupe trailed the field. The winner is a son of Air Force Blue conditioned by Simon Callaghan on behalf of owners Alice Bamford and Michael B. Tabor.
An hour later, A G Indy delivered a determined performance to win the $200,000 Senator Ken Maddy S. dashing five furlong on turf. With Umberto Rispoli in the saddle, the Doug O’Neill trainee broke cleanly from post 2 and soon settled into third position, tucked along the rail as pacesetter Angelcents clocked the opening quarter mile in :22.38.
But when the field turned for home, A G Indy shifted outside and split horses for a clean path. Rolling past Angelcents, A G Indy gamely outkicked Time Limit to prevail by a neck in :56.71. Slow-starting Hear My Prayer rallied late for third place, followed by Aqua Seaform Shame, Anna Fantastic, Lagertha, Superstition, Ambassador Luna, and Angelcents.
A daughter of Take Charge Indy, A G Indy races in the colors of R3 Racing. The dark bay four-year-old has shown steady improvement since being claimed by O’Neill last winter, winning three of her last four starts. A jump into graded stakes company could well be in her future.