March 21, 2023

Leofric prevails after stretch-long Fayette duel

Leofric wins the Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland under jockey Florent Geroux on October 27, 2018 (c) Keeneland/Coady Photography

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Less than $2,000 separated Leofric and his younger rival Hofburg in the Win pool for Saturday’s $200,000 Fayette (G2) at Keeneland, but the gap proved to be much larger on the racetrack.

Under gloomy skies and before a Fall Meet closing day crowd of 14,927, Leofric emerged on top in the 1 1/8-mile Fayette by a head over Prime Attraction, who nearly took the field all the way after setting splits of :24.80, :48.97, and 1:12.74. The narrowly-favored Hofburg, meanwhile, rated a close third early before losing position on the turn and finished sixth.

Rating in second from the start under Florent Geroux, Leofric bid for the lead on the far turn, dueled with the long-time leader through the stretch, and gutted out the win in a time of 1:49.87 over a muddy track.

Owned by Steve Landers and trained by Brad Cox, Leofric paid $5.40 as the 17-10 second choice. It was four lengths back to Nice Not Nice in third. He was followed by Hence, Rated R Superstar, Hofburg, and Scuba.

This was the second career graded stakes win for Leofric, who landed the West Virginia Governor’s (G3) at Mountaineer by a neck two starts back. In his most recent start, Leofric was a solid third in the Woodward (G1), beaten just two lengths by Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) candidate Yoshida.

“We gave him a little break after the Woodward,” Cox said. “He deserved to be backed off of a little and he rewarded us today.”

Since joining the Cox barn after three early losses in maiden company, Leofric has improved his career mark to 13-7-1-3, $650,340. In addition to his two stakes wins and a third in the Woodward, the gray son of Candy Ride has also placed in the Razorback H. (G3) at Oaklawn and in the $73,000 Tenacious at Fair Grounds.

“He’s a phenomenal horse. He gives you what he has every single time,” Cox said.

Bred in Kentucky by Peter Blum Thoroughbreds, the five-year-old is out of Lady Godiva, an Unbridled’s Song half-sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Multiple Choice. This is also the family of Grade 1 winner Well Chosen, and her Grade 1-winning son Telling.