July 14, 2024

General Jim outlasts Fort Bragg in Pat Day Mile

Fort Bragg (right) finished second in the Pat Day Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Courtlandt Farms’ General Jim earned the biggest victory of his young career in Saturday’s $500,000 Pat Day Mile presented by Twin Spires (G2) at Churchill Downs, successfully outkicking Fort Bragg by a neck for the top honor beneath jockey Luis Saez. The Shug McGaughey charge, who entered Saturday’s affair off a score in the Swale (G3) at Gulfstream, more than doubled his bankroll to $519,833 to go along with a ledger of 7-4-0-2.

Damon’s Mound, with almost the entire field of 13 sophomores in hot pursuit, paced them through opening fractions of :22.41 and :45 before slowly giving way to much of the field, most particularly Fort Bragg and the eventual winner. Fort Bragg led past six furlongs in 1:09.27 with General Jim a head back to his outside. As the field hit the early part of the stretch, it was fairly evident that Fort Bragg and General Jim were slightly pulling away from the rest, and in the final 50 or so yards, General Jim and his able pilot slowly but surely edged past a tough opponent. The winning time for the one-turn, one-mile fast main track affair was 1:34.43.

Gilmore was 3 1/2 lengths behind the runner-up, and following him past the finish were Frosted Departure, Gun Pilot, Echo Again, Lugan Knight, Curly Jack, Damon’s Mound, Tall Boy, the favored Kangaroo Court, and Bourbon Bash. Midnight Rising was withdrawn. On the backstretch, Freezing Point was pulled up and later vanned off.

According to Saez, the addition of blinkers for General Jim prior to the Swale has made a lot of difference.

“We decided to make a change after his last couple of races (adding blinkers) and I don’t think he would have won without blinkers,” he said. “It makes a big difference.”

Bred in the Bluegrass State by Fifth Avenue Bloodstock & Centerline Breeding, General Jim is by Into Mischief and out of the stakes-placed Curlin mare Inspired by Grace, who has an unnamed yearling filly by Authentic. The colt was acquired for $850,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.