Multiple Grade 1-placed Keepmeinmind earned his first career win in Saturday’s $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, closing from last-to-first to score by about a length. David Cohen was up on the 2-1 favorite for trainer Robertino Diordoro.
By Laoban, the 2-year-old colt is campaigned by Cypress Creek and Arnold Bennewith. The bay picked up 10 points winning the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier, increasing his point total to 22 following a runner-up in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and a third in the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland.
Second when making his first start in an off-the-turf maiden at Churchill Downs in early September, Keepmeinmind has now earned 394,320 from a 4-1-2-1 record. He completed the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club distance in 1:44.52.
“The slow pace today actually worked out for him; he didn’t seem to mind it at all,” Cohen said. “We saved ground going into the first turn and got into a nice rhythm. I let him gather himself up around the turn and didn’t want to swing too wide. He’s just growing into himself. I told Robertino this would be our Derby horse.
“Mentally he hasn’t grown up yet in his previous starts. He’s starting to put it all together.”
Keepmeinmind trailed until launching a wide bid nearing the completion of the far turn, and the confirmed closer wore down Smiley Sobotka in the latter stages to prevail.
“He showed his talent today,” Diodoro said. “He’s had some tough trips previously and even though he was a maiden, we knew he’d fit with this field. I think he’ll be a horse that’ll run all day.”
Smiley Sobotka dueled for the lead through :24.11, :48.24, and 1:12.81 fractions. He shook free entering the stretch, reaching the sixteenth pole with a two-length advantage, but the last-out maiden winner could not withstand Keepmeinmind’s late surge.
Couple at 7-2 with Sittin on Co, Smiley Sobotka easily held second, about a length better than late-running Arabian Prince in third. It was another two lengths to 3-1 second choice Swill in fourth.
King Fury, Sittin on Go, Oncoming Train, Ultimate Badger, and Inspector Frost came next under the wire.
Bred in Kentucky by Southern Equine Stables, Keepmeinmind hails from the Victory Gallop mare Inclination. He counts Grade 2-placed Jack’s Memory as a half-brother.