Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Shining Copper grabbed early command of Thursday’s $100,000 River City H. (G3) at Churchill Downs and held sway throughout under leading rider Corey Lanerie.
Trained by Mike Maker, the 4-1 third choice carved out splits of :24.28, :48.77, and 1:14.24 on the yielding turf, and his pursuers couldn’t make much of a dent down the lane. Shining Copper crossed the wire 1 3/4 lengths clear while completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.78. The seven-year-old veteran, the erstwhile pacemaker for 2015 champion turf horse Big Blue Kitten, was scoring his first graded victory.
Fellow seven-year-old Kasaqui, making his career finale, was among those enduring a rougher passage than the perfect-trip winner. Shuffled back entering the first turn, the Argentine import had to maneuver for room in the stretch and finished well to snare second in a photo for the minors.
Revved Up, in a difficult tactical position from his poor start to fanning out wide turning for home, got up for third over defending champion Thatcher Street, who sustained a hefty bump in the closing stages. Team Colors was another head away in fifth, followed by Christian C, Some in Tieme, 3-1 favorite War Correspondent, Vettori Kin, Applicator, Shotgun Kowboy, Coco Mon, and Zulu Alpha.
Shining Copper’s prior stakes score came in last summer’s Lure at Saratoga, but the Aragorn gelding was subsequently sidelined for 13 months. He returned with a third in the September 6 Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs, moved forward to dominate a Keeneland allowance on the front end, and continued his productive comeback here. His resume reads 31-8-4-7, $697,169, reflecting stakes credits in each of his six seasons of racing. While Shining Copper’s marquee placings are a near-miss in the 2016 Gulfstream Park H. (G1), a third in the 2015 Arlington Million (G1) in his rabbit days, he’d also taken minor awards in the 2012 Generous (G3) as a juvenile, the 2013 James W. Murphy and Jersey Derby, and the 2014 Remington Green.
Bred by International Equities Holding in Kentucky, Shining Copper was risked for a tag twice, and claimed on both occasions, the last time by Maker and the Ramseys for $62,500 at Churchill in May 2015. He is out of the Chilean-bred La Minuta, by Winged Victory, from the extended family of Chilean dirt champion Salto Del Indio.
Quotes from Churchill Downs
Trainer Mike Maker on Shining Copper: “He got pretty sick at the end of the Saratoga meet last year. He was off for nearly a year but has come back and done well with everything we’ve asked of him. His best way of going is on the front end and he got a perfect setup today.”
Winning rider Corey Lanerie: “We knew going in his style of running and once we broke well from the gate he never looked back. I asked him a bit to go at the three-eighths pole and he responded when horses got close to him. It was a great job by Mike and his team to get him ready.”
Trainer Ignacio Correas IV on runner-up Kasaqui: “He retired in style. We are so proud of him and so happy that he finished in that manner. That’s the manner that he deserved to go out in, so we are happy.”
Kasaqui’s jockey, Ricardo Santana Jr.: “He tried hard today. We got a perfect trip and saved ground, and turning for home I took him out and gave me a little kick. He was just second-best.”
Rider Robby Albarado on Revved Up’s trip: “I kind of had to make a longer run around the outside. With the temporary rail up it makes you really wide and I couldn’t take a chance of getting him stopped. He’s a big horse and you’ve got to keep moving. So I had to go wide and it maybe cost me some position there. It may have cost him second, but you never know.”