September 29, 2023

Bango hangs on from Mucho in Kelly’s Landing

Bango (right) wins the Kelly's Landing Overnight Stake (Photo by Coady Photography)

While 6-5 favorite Art Collector never got involved in his comeback in Friday’s $107,025 Kelly’s Landing Overnight S., a rival from their old juvenile days – Tamaroak Partners’ homebred Bango – scored his second straight stakes victory at Churchill Downs. The 6.50-1 chance got the jump on 19-1 longshot Mucho and just lasted by a nose.

Bango was capping a three-win day for both trainer Greg Foley and jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Notably, Foley had sent out Major Fed, last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) 10th-placer, to capture his four-year-old debut in an allowance.

Art Collector, who missed the 2020 Derby due to a foot problem, was expected to turn in a similarly effective reappearance in the Kelly’s Landing. But favorite backers had to be concerned from the start, when he veered out from post 9 and failed to secure any kind of position.

Meanwhile, Bango was perched in fourth, just a couple of lengths off frontrunning Strike Power through an opening quarter in :22.63. Advancing to second at the half in :45.32, Bango challenged Strike Power turning into the stretch and wrested command by the eighth-pole.

The rail-drawn Mucho had dragged his way up to track the pace, but buried on the inside, he had to wait. By the time he had an opportunity to swing out and launch his rally, Bango had made the winning move. Although Mucho closed the gap to force the photo, Bango gamely stretched his stamina through that seventh furlong to prevail in 1:21.25.

Strike Power held third, another two lengths adrift. Aloha West got up for fourth after a troubled start. Next came Home Base; Art Collector, who scrimmaged in upper stretch en route to his lackluster sixth; Bourbon Calling; Long Range Toddy; and Relentless Dancer.

“It’s been a great day for our barn and our owners,” Foley summed up. “This is why we get up early in the morning and do our job. It makes it all worth it when horses like this run as well as they do. Bango loves Churchill Downs. He’s a neat little horse, and Tyler gave him a great ride.”

“There was a little bit of speed to our inside,” Gaffalione recapped, “so I just let him get settled down the backside. We got into a great position, and I wanted to make sure I got the jump on the closers. He held on well and ran a big race.”

Bango, who paid $15, was exiting a score in the six-furlong Aristides S. here on May 29. As a true horse-for-the-course at Churchill, his local mark now stands at 9-6-1-1, including an allowance win via the disqualification of Art Collector in November 2019. Overall, Bango has compiled a record of 18-7-1-1, $459,197. His lone win elsewhere came in the 2020 Animal Kingdom S. at Turfway Park.

The Kentucky-bred is by Congrats and out of the Smart Strike mare Josaka. Bango’s third dam, Grade 1 vixen Runup the Colors, produced Revolutionary who landed the 2013 Louisiana Derby (G2) and placed third in the Kentucky Derby.