He had to fight tooth and nail, but Masqueparade delivered as the favorite in Saturday’s $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown, fighting off challenges from both sides to make his stakes debut a winning one.
Bet down to 11-5 off a runaway allowance victory at Churchill Downs, Masqueparade faced eight rivals in the 1 1/8-mile Ohio Derby, including Lexington S. (G3) winner King Fury, Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) hero Keepmeinmind, and Peter Pan S. (G3) winner Promise Keeper. Ultimately, these four proved to be much the best—and nearly inseparable—at the finish line.
Promise Keeper was the first to show, breaking on top and vying with longshot Hello Hot Rod through splits of :22.80, :48.08, and 1:12.42. Masqueparade was initially content to settle in fifth place under jockey Miguel Mena, but soon advanced to secure a pressing position outside of the pacesetters.
Rounding the final turn, Promise Keeper and Masqueparade began to pull away from the field. With an eighth of a mile remaining they were locked together, noses apart and 3 1/2 lengths clear of their rivals. Late in the game, King Fury and Keepmeinmind arrived on the scene, rallying together from the back of the pack. But their late charges fell short of Masqueparade, who dug deep and found something extra to score by a half-length in 1:50.82.
King Fury beat Keepmeinmind by a nose for second place, followed a half-length behind by Promise Keeper. The top quartet pulled five lengths clear of Ethical Judgement, Channel Fury, The Reds, Hello Hot Rod, and Hozier. Both of the scratched horses are cross-entered to other spots – Proxy in Friday’s Iowa Derby, and Falcons Fury in a Wednesday allowance here.
Bred in Kentucky by Brereton C. Jones, Masqueparade is a son of Upstart out of the Any Given Saturday mare Cry War Eagle. Owned by FTGGG Racing and trained by Al Stall, Masqueparade has made steady improvement over the last few months. A maiden winner via disqualification in his fourth career start at Fair Grounds, Masqueparade has now won three straight races, good for earnings of $422,208.
As the first half of the year winds down, Masqueparade is cementing his status as an up-and-coming sophomore to follow. It’s not a stretch to conclude he’s capable of developing into a Grade 1-caliber colt, with races like the Travers S. (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1) looming as potential targets during the second half of the season.