Golden Pal carried his speed to glory in the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2), leading wire to wire in the first of five “Future Stars Friday” Breeders’ Cup races at Keeneland.
Trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., who teamed to win the 2019 Juvenile Turf Sprint with Four Wheel Drive, Golden Pal sped 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.82 over the firm ground as the 8-5 favorite among 14 2-year-olds.
“He’s a really nice horse,” Ortiz Jr. said. “He did the hard job. I just sat in him waiting for the time to go. He ran great. He really has a lot of potential.”
Breaking from post 13, Golden Pal flew out of the starting gate, quickly accelerating clear to a two-length lead. Ortiz tried to settle his mount approaching the first turn, which resulted in Golden Pal tossing his head as he resented being held.
Golden Pal entered the stretch with a widening advantage, up by about five lengths with a sixteenth of a mile remaining, and he held to win by three-quarters of a length over the late-running Cowan.
A Randall Lowe homebred, Golden Pal finished a close second when making his debut on the debut at Gulfstream Park in mid-April. The Florida-bred youngster shipped to Royal Ascot and recorded an excellent neck second in the Norfolk (G2) a month later. Golden Pal was exiting a smashing 4 1/4-length score in the Aug. 21 Skidmore S. on Saratoga’s turf.
“He’s just amazing,” Ward said. “I got a little worried on the backside. Irad kind of lost a little momentum there and took a pretty good hold of him, but then he just accelerated down the lane. When he accelerated past the quarter-pole, I knew we were O.K.
“I got a little worried on the last part and was hugging onto my son, but we got there. He’s a champion colt. Thank God (Randy Lowe) gave him to me to train. I really appreciate it. (Next year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint) is where we’re heading, but first we’re going to Royal Ascot. Here we come. He’s going to get them this year!”
Cowan rallied well from off the pace as the 11-1 third choice, winding up a length better than 26-1 Ubettabelieveit in third. Next came Lipizzaner, After Five, County Final, Momos, Bodenheimer, Dirty Dangle, Windy City Red, Mighty Gurkha, Second of July, Into the Sunrise, and Blame the Booze.
Golden Pal is out of the outstanding turf sprinter Lady Shipman, who finished second in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland. The 11-time stakes winner was also bred and raced by Lowe, and Lady Shipman is by Midshipman.