Returning to the scene of his triumph in the American Turf (G2) on 2019 Derby Day, Digital Age renewed his affinity for the Churchill Downs course in Saturday’s $1 million Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1). In the process, the 8-1 chance offered some recompense for Klaravich Stables, trainer Chad Brown, and jockey Javier Castellano after their 1-2 favorite Newspaperofrecord was floored in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2).
Digital Age was in the shadow of stablemates Sacred Life and Rockemperor, the respective 19-10 favorite and 9-2 second choice, who brought smarter recent form. Indeed, Digital Age had resorted to class relief in allowances in his two starts of 2020, and his recent victory at Saratoga snapped a six-race losing skid.
The pace was expected to be contentious, and thereby a disadvantage to the 3-1 morning line favorite, Factor This. Drifting slightly in the market to 5-1, Factor This did have pace company, but from a less predictable rival in True Valour. After setting honest splits of :23.24. :47.17, and 1:11.16 for a 1 1/8-mile test, Factor This put away his attendant and set sail for home.
The only closer to burst from the pack was Digital Age, who collared the longtime leader by three-quarters of a length. The Invincible Spirit colt clocked 1:47.79 and rewarded his backers with a $19.20 win mutuel.
Castellano commented on the plot twist of which Klaravich colorbearer won on the day.
“This is such a crazy, strange business our sport. It’s a rollercoaster. I rode for Seth Klarman two really good horses today, and of course we thought they both had a chance to win. But I predicted for myself ‘I can’t lose with Newspaperofrecord’ and we just got beat. And this horse (Digital Age) is like 8-1 and ended up winning the big race. That’s what makes this game fun – you never know what is going to happen with the horses.
“Thank God, I got lucky. I had a beautiful, beautiful trip. I saved all the ground and cut the corner turning for home and it paid off. My horse he liked the ground, he handled it so well. I’m very satisfied with the way he did it. I felt that they went pretty quick (up front) and I took my time. I didn’t want to rush it and be close to the pace. I wanted to ride with a lot of patience and finally it paid off.”
Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode Factor This, praised his game effort.
“You can’t ask him to do much more than what he did. He put his heart out there again. Unfortunately we didn’t get the win today, but he’s a trier.
“I did (think he would win). He was trying. I mean, he was giving me everything. It was nothing on his part. He waited a little bit turning for home and I kicked on with him. He was very determined today.”
Factor This was 2 1/4 lengths clear of the belatedly rallying Rockemperor. Sacred Life prevailed in a four-way photo for fourth, just lasting from Dontblamerocket. Next came Spectacular Gem, True Valour, Mr. Dumas, Somelikeithotbrown, and Bowies Hero.
Digital Age’s third stakes score enhanced his line to 11-5-2-0 and ballooned his bankroll to $1,234,660. The bay won his first three career starts as a sophomore, including the Columbia at Tampa Bay and the American Turf, but couldn’t regain the top spot for a year. Fourth in last summer’s Belmont Derby Invitational and a fine second in the Saratoga Derby Invitational, he was unplaced in the Jockey Club Derby Invitational and Hill Prince (G2). Digital Age concluded the season with a troubled fourth in the Hollywood Derby (G1), and got his confidence back at the allowance level this term.
Purchased for 325,000 guineas as a Tattersalls October yearling, Digital Age was bred by Merry Fox Stud Ltd. in Ireland. His dam, the Lemon Drop Kid mare Willow View, is a half-sister to Group 1 victress Cursory Glance.