Unraced since late November, King Fury rallied boldly to take the lead leaving the far turn and posted a 2 3/4-length victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Lexington S. (G3) at Keeneland. The Kenny McPeek-trained Curlin colt was overlooked at 18-1 in the Kentucky Derby qualifier.
Brian Hernandez Jr. guided the chestnut to his first graded stakes win. King Fury picked up his first 20 points toward a Kentucky Derby berth, finishing outside the top four in three qualifiers last fall, and he will need some help to make the Kentucky Derby field from the bubble.
“We’ll check him after this race,” McPeek said when asked about the Kentucky Derby on May 1. “I think he’s going to handle a mile and a quarter without any trouble. Whether he gets in, it’s out of our control. We’ll see how he bounces out. We think a mile a quarter would be great. We’ll look at the opposition. The Preakness (G1) is a great race too. It could be either-or, but it would definitely one or the other.”
Owned by Paul Fireman’s Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm, King Fury will point to the second leg of the Triple Crown, the May 15 Preakness at Pimlico, if he doesn’t make the Kentucky Derby field.
King Fury rated eighth among nine runners during the early stages, advanced boldly into contention entering the far turn, and split runners in process to storming to a clear lead by the head of the short stretch. He rolled home, completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.50.
Unbridled Honor, 20-1 in his second stakes attempt following a fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), made up a lot of ground from off the pace to reach a threatening position with a sixteenth of a mile remaining, but could not sustain his momentum finishing a clear second.
Starrininmydreams came next in third. Proxy closed to be a belated fourth at 2.40-1. Noble Reflection, It’s My House, 2.20-1 favorite Swiftsure, Hockey Dad, and Bezos completed the order.
King Fury broke his maiden the first time out in early September. After an unplaced effort in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), he captured the Street Sense S. at Churchill Downs. But King Fury did not carry his momentum forward, concluding 2020 with a seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and a fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2).
He’s now earned $262,737 from a 6-3-0-0 record.
Bred in Kentucky by Helder Family Stables, King Fury commanded a $950,000 sales price at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August yearling sale. He’s the first foal from the Grade 1-winning millionaire Taris, a daughter of Flatter.