The six-day, all-turf meet at Kentucky Downs began on Sunday with a pair of lucrative stakes: the $750,000 Dueling Grounds Derby and the $500,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks. One saw a favorite deliver at a short price; the other saw a longshot stun bettors at huge odds.
A dozen three-year-old colts and geldings faced the starter in the Dueling Grounds Derby, and when the gates opened, 36-1 longshot Accredit broke sharply from the rail and dashed to a clear lead under jockey Martin Garcia. Fractions of :24.17, :49.03, and 1:14.31 were solid over a yielding course, but Accredit never wavered down the homestretch of the 1 5/16-mile test, holding off Yes This Time to win by a length in 2:10.58.
Cellist settled for third place by a neck from Modern Science, followed by Red Hornet, Gray Streak, Hilliard, 9-5 favorite Du Jour, Last Samurai, In Effect, and Palazzi.
Accredit is trained by Pavel Matejka, who also co-owns the son of Flatter with Bob Grayson Jr. Accredit’s victory wasn’t necessarily unprecedented—back in July, he ran second in the American Derby at Arlington Park—but his 36-1 triumph certainly ranked as a major surprise on the day.
In contrast, the Dueling Grounds Oaks for three-year-old fillies saw 11-10 favorite Adventuring deliver a comfortable victory. The Godolphin homebred vied for early supremacy with Oliviaofthedesert, carving out modest fractions of :26.10, :51.49, and 1:16.89 through the first six furlongs. Then Adventuring took command and edged away through the long homestretch to beat Viburnum by 1 3/4 lengths, stopping the timer for 1 5/16 miles in 2:12.33.
Oliviaofthedesert held third, 3 1/2 lengths behind the top pair, while Inthewinnerscircle, Earth Strike, Serene, and Core Values trailed the field.
Ridden to victory by Joel Rosario on behalf of trainer Brad Cox, Adventuring was securing the second stakes win of her career, following a dominant victory in the Mar. 27 Bourbonette Oaks over the Tapeta track at Turfway Park. The versatile daughter of Pioneerof the Nile actually broke her maiden on dirt, which means her 8-3-1-2 career resume includes victories across all three racing surfaces.
Racing at Kentucky Downs continues on Monday, Labor Day, with three more rich stakes worth a combined $2 million. First post time is 1:20 p.m. ET.