Although winless in four starts this season prior to Saturday’s $175,000 River City (G3), Mr. Misunderstood once again showed he’s a virtual sure thing over the Churchill Downs turf with a successful title defense in the nine-furlong test.
An odds-on favorite when taking the 2018 River City for his fourth win as many tries on the Matt Winn turf course, Mr. Misunderstood had been the beaten favorite in all of his prior 2019 outings. That left bettors slightly cool to him, but long-time fans were rewarded with an $11.20 mutuel.
Rated in midpack by jockey Florent Geroux, Mr. Misunderstood rallied between rivals in a cavalry charge to the finish and edged Cullom Road by a neck. Admission Office, the 6-5 favorite, closed for third, just a half-length behind the winner. The final time over ground labeled good was 1:53.31.
“He breezed here fantastic last Sunday,” trainer Brad Cox said. “We thought he was going to give us his A-effort.”
Mr. Misunderstood is the third horse to win back-to-back runnings of the River City, which dates to 1992. The others were Same Old Wish (1996-97) and Dr. Kashnikow (2001-02).
In addition to the two River Citys, Mr. Misunderstood has also won the Wise Dan (G2), Commonwealth Turf (G3), and Jefferson Cup at Churchill, plus four other stakes. His only career loss on the Churchill turf was his 2019 debut on June 27, when he finished third in an allowance.
“We had a bump in the road last winter,” Cox said. “He got sick, required some time off, and we gave it to him. We stayed super patient with him.”
Aside from a clunker at Kentucky Downs in early September, Mr. Misunderstood’s form going into the River City was relatively solid, including narrow losses in stakes at Ellis Park and Remington Park. Cox said Mr. Misunderstood would now target stakes at Fair Grounds over the winter, with the Muniz Memorial (G2) the leading goal in March. His record now stands at 26-13-3-3, $916,954.
Owned by Flurry Racing Stables, Mr. Misunderstood was bred in Kentucky by Athens Woods. By Archarcharch, the five-year-old gelding is out of the multiple stakes-placed Jodys Deelite, by Afternoon Deelites.