Worn down late a year ago after attempting to lead all the way in the $200,000 Wise Dan (G2), the veteran gray Kasaqui used closing tactics to seal the deal in the 2017 renewal of the 1 1/16-mile turf test at Churchill Downs on Saturday night.
Under James Graham, Kasaqui tracked in sixth early as Chocolate Ride led through fractions of :23.81, :47.25 and 1:10.87. Advancing to fourth on the turn, Kasaqui made his bid in upper stretch, passed Chocolate Ride approaching the furlong pole and drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths.
Owned by Wimborne Farm and trained by Igancio Correas, the Argentinean paid $8.40 as the 3-1 second choice after covering the distance in 1:40.26 on firm ground.
“He broke sharp, settled back and came absolutely sprinting home at the end. I wish all of my races were this simple,” Graham said. “Once I got him in the clear, he had his mind on winning. He ran a great race and I’m so proud of him.”
Chocolate Ride, sent off at 7-1, held second by 1 1/4 lengths over 5-1 chance Conquest Panthera. The order of finish was rounded out by Bondurant, Blofeld, 2016 Wise Dan winner and 2-1 favorite Pleuven, Thatcher Street, and Security Risk.
This was the first win for Kasaqui since taking the Arlington H. (G3) last July. Second by a neck in the Arlington Million (G1) next out, he finished unplaced in his final two starts of the 2016 season.
Kasaqui opened his 2017 account with narrow losses in the Tampa Bay (G3) and Muniz Memorial (G2), and last time ran fourth in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) on softish ground. He’s now earned $651,547 from a line of 26-6-10-1.
Bred by San Francisco de Pilar, Kasaqui is by Lasting Approval and out of the Alysheba mare Kemosheba. She’s also reared Kasaqui’s full brother, Argentinean Group 2 winner Keyite. Farther back in this family is French champion and noted sire Grey Dawn II.