While Saturday saw the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the 142nd Preakness Stakes (G1), attracting most of the attention at Pimlico in Baltimore, Churchill Downs provided graded action that was worth watching.
First up, Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC’s hombred Walkabout rallied from ninth to secure a neck victory in the $100,000 Matron Stakes (G3) with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard.
Belle Hill and Improv dueled on the lead of that 1 1/16-mile affair for the first half-mile, before the latter took command and drew off to a two-length advantage in the lane. Walkabout was just getting wound up, though, and came flying to get the win in a final time of 1:44.06 on the fast main track.
Trained by Ian Wilkes, Walkabout paid $12 for the score as the 5-1 third choice. Improv, sent off at 28-1, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of 21-1 shot Divine Elegance, while 38-1 Crooked Stick completed the nice $2 superfecta worth more than $15,000 another 1 1/4 lengths back.
Weep No More, Tiger Moth, heavy 4-5 favorite Curlin’s Approval, She’s a True Beauty, Belle Hill, Naylor and Miss Mo Kelly completed the order under the wire.
Walkabout is now 11-4-2-2 in her career and has banked $218,793 lifetime. The four-year-old daughter of Stroll is now two-for-two in 2017, having captured an allowance/optional claimer on April 12 at Keeneland by a neck. She closed out her sophomore season with her first stakes credit, a third-place run in the Falls City Handicap (G2), and earned her initial stakes triumph in this spot.
Bred in Kentucky by Janis R. Whitham, Walkabout is out of the Broad Brush mare Arlucea, making her a half-sister to 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) hero Fort Larned. The filly’s second dam is two-time champion mare Bayakoa.
Ian Wilkes, trainer Walkabout, winner
“It took us this last year to figure her out. She originally ran closer to the pace but she made us understand to be patient. She was always traveling well and when I saw the horses bunch together on the front end I wasn’t worried at all. Brian (Hernandez Jr.) rode her great going around all of the speed horses and not getting her stopped.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey Walkabout, winner
“Around the first turn, we were way back there. That’s just the sort of horse she is, though. We came rolling at the end. We figured out the type of running style she has over the last couple of starts. All I have to do is stay out of her way.”
Rusty Arnold, trainer Improv (second) and Weep No More (fifth)
“I think a lot of people thought I was running her (Improv) as a rabbit but I wasn’t. She had really done well since her last race. The other filly (Weep No More) ran all right. She hasn’t been out in eight months and she needed to get feet back under her. She did late, but then got tired. We just wanted to get her back going. It’s tough to find a race for a horse like that. Now we’ve got (Improv) back to herself and she’ll be in the Fleur de Lis, hopefully.”
James Graham, jockey Improv, second
“She ran a huge race. If they’d left me alone and let me send her a little bit, she might have been good enough to hang on today. But today wasn’t her day.”
One race later, Some In Time Inc.’s Some in Tieme also put in a rally from the back of the pack to take the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (G3) by three lengths.
Jockey Manoel Cruz guided the five-year-old, who bided his time in last at one point while Reporting Star set the pace up front. Some in Tieme angled six wide on the final turn and flew home down the center of the track to easily collar the longtime leader and finish 1 1/2 miles on Churchill’s firm turf in 2:27.25.
Reporting Star was best of the rest, 2 1/4 lengths up on Bullards Alley in third, while Gold Shield ran another length behind in fourth. Some in Tieme paid $26.20 for the win at 12-1 and the $1 superfecta returned a whopping $40,766.90.
Some in Tieme was making only his fourth U.S. start in this spot, having already gained fame in his native Brazil. The bay son of Shirocco earned the title of champion three-year-old colt in his native country for 2015-2016, and is a Brazilian Group 1 winner. He’s now earned $414,299 to go along with a 10-4-2-1 career mark.
Bred by Haras Santa Maria de Araras, Some in Tieme is out of the Group 3-scoring Royal Academy mare Orma Giusta and comes from a rich Brazilian black-type female line, including Brazilian champion Special Lady as his second dam.
LOUISVILLE HANDICAP QUOTES
Manny Cruz, jockey Some in Tieme, winner
“I really like this horse. (Trainer) Kenny (McPeek) had me work him on Sunday and he trained very well. Once we got clear of the traffic, he cruised home.”
Alan Shell, assistant trainer Some in Tieme, winner
“After he came over in Brazil, he was running on the west coast and the owners were looking for a change of scenery. It was a very patient ride by Manny (Cruz). He was able to come to Keeneland to get on this horse last Sunday. We’re really happy things worked out.”
Joe Rocco Jr., jockey Reporting Star, second
“He ran big. He got out there on the lead and he was able to slow it down there pretty good. He had quite a bit to finish with, but Kenny’s horse was a bit too much for him today.”
Marcelino Pedroz Jr., jockey Bullards Alley, third
“It was a pretty good race. It felt like at the half-mile pole that he was going to back-up and finish last, but he kept on going. He’s that kind of horse – he likes to go all the way, farther and farther. He ran a good race.”