May 20, 2022

Cowan handed Kenner on Just Might DQ; Forty Under, Pass the Plate post upsets

After the disqualification of Just Might, Cowan (pictured) is declared winner of ​the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes (Photo by Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir)

After the disqualification of strong favorite Just Might in the Duncan F. Kenner S., the upsets continued in Saturday’s turf stakes at Fair Grounds. Pass the Plate got up to pay $19.20 in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial, and Forty Under furnished $34.80 in a Col. E.R. Bradley S. thriller.

Duncan F. Kenner

Just Might wrapped up his third straight Fair Grounds stakes laurel in the $99,000 Duncan F. Kenner, only to lose it in the stewards’ room. The 11-10 favorite was disqualified for interference and placed last, elevating runner-up Cowan to the victory. Later on the card, Cowan’s jockey Joel Rosario and trainer Steve Asmussen would team up for a more satisfying win with La Crete in the Silverbulletday S.

The Kenner ruling was controversial, not only for demoting a convincing winner, but because Cowan was arguably the key to the incident in question. Breaking from post 2, Cowan’s body language was focused on his inside, toward the rail-drawn Sir Alfred James, in the opening strides. Meanwhile, Just Might dashed to the fore and crossed over a few paths from post 5. When Just Might drew nearer to his lane, a hard-to-handle Cowan appeared to overreact, mauling Sir Alfred James who was shoved into the rail. Sir Alfred James had to check severely, and he never got back into contention.

Just Might went on his way through fractions of :22.52 and :45.69, spurted clear in the stretch, and clocked 5 1/2 furlongs on the good course in 1:03.40. Cowan regrouped in chasing mode, and although 2 3/4 lengths astern of Just Might, was easily best of the rest by almost the same margin.

Just Might’s co-owner/breeder and trainer Michelle Lovell, jockey Colby Hernandez, and favorite backers had little opportunity to celebrate. Sir Alfred James’s jockey, John McKee, claimed foul against Hernandez. A few minutes later, the lights next to Just Might and Cowan were both flashing, indicating that the inquiry involved the top two.

The stewards found Just Might culpable, but not Cowan, who returned $10.60 as a 4.30-1 chance. Lovell’s other runner, the 32-1 Strike Me Down, was promoted to second. The 35-1 longest shot on the board, Mr. Hustle, was now placed third, and the 18-1 Classy John rounded out the amended superfecta. Defending champion Manny Wah, the 2.70-1 second choice, came next, followed by Frosted Grace, the hampered Sir Alfred James, and officially, the demoted Just Might.

Campaigned by Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, Madaket Stables, and Spendthrift Farm, Cowan has compiled a record of 13-3-6-1, $826,602. This marked his first stakes win after several placings on both turf and dirt. Second in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) (to Golden Pal), Indian Summer S., and Remington Springboard Mile, the Kantharos colt was also runner-up in last year’s Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park and the Saudi Derby.

Cowan was bred by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings in Kentucky and sold to the Heiligbrodts for $185,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The chestnut later RNA’d for $385,000 as a juvenile at OBS March. Out of the stakes-placed Smart Strike mare Tempers Flair, Cowan hails from the family of champions Boston Harbor and Groovy.

Col. E.R. Bradley

Rosario and Asmussen came up on the wrong side of the head bob in the $100,000 Col. E.R. Bradley, as Halo Again looked poised to prevail in the photo. But Three Diamonds Farm’s Forty Under found extra in the shadow of the post.

Overlooked at 16.40-1, the Mike Maker trainee worked out an ideal trip with Mitchell Murrill, despite breaking from post 10. Forty Under had the tactical speed to attend 2.60-1 favorite Two Emmys through fractions of :23.73, :48.63, and 1:13.03. Two Emmys tried to pull away in the stretch, but Forty Under was persistent, and the stalking Halo Again pounced to make it a three-way tussle to the wire.

Forty Under got the nod in a final time of 1:43.45 for 1 1/16 miles, earning his first stakes win since the 2018 Pilgrim (G3) (when trained by Jeremiah Englehart). Halo Again was a half-length up on Two Emmys, who was four lengths clear of fourth-placer Own Agenda. Lucky Curlin wound up fifth, followed by Dyn O Mite, Monarchs Glen, Excess Magic, Cavalry Charge, and Bodecream. Logical Myth and Major Fed were scratched.

Bred by Cedar Hill in Kentucky, Forty Under initially brought $180,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling. The gray was purchased by his current connections for $70,000 at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age Sale. The gelded son of Uncle Mo and the stakes-winning Black Tie Affair mare Argent Affair has bankrolled $352,246 from a career mark of 17-4-1-2.

Marie G. Krantz Memorial

In the $98,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial, Silverton Hill’s homebred Pass the Plate ended a losing skid dating back to the 2020 Pago Hop S. Ironically, the 8.60-1 chance did so by collaring last-out Pago Hop heroine Lovely Ride, with a similar closing rush.

Trained by Paul McGee and piloted by Marcelino Pedroza, Pass the Plate was anchored at the rear as Adelaide Miss carved out splits of :23.79, :48.52, and 1:13.16. Lovely Ride, who had been reserved in second, advanced to engage the pacesetter. Just as Lovely Ride began to get the upper hand entering the final furlong, Pass the Plate arrived on the scene and thrust her head in front. The Temple City mare negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.15, upping her line to 21-5-2-7, $434,224.

Another 3 1/4 lengths back came Adelaide Miss, who salvaged third by a neck from the staying-on Janelle Monae. Although a one-paced fourth in her U.S. debut, Brazilian-bred Janelle Monae figures to move forward especially on a step up in distance. Out of Sorts, 3-2 favorite Abscond, and Princess Theorem concluded the order of finish.

As expected, Summer in Saratoga scratched to await next Saturday’s Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf (G3). Also withdrawn were Catch a Bid, Touch of Class, Assertive Style, and Dawn’s Dancer.

Out of the multiple stakes-placed Great Notion mare Pocket Gift, Kentucky-bred Pass the Plate has placed in seven stakes, notably the 2020 Mrs. Revere (G3) and Bourbonette Oaks along with the 2021 Bewitch (G3).