Rattle N Roll burst through an opening in midstretch and closed boldly to win Saturday’s $225,000 Blame (G3) at Churchill Downs. A prep for the Stephen Foster (G1) in early July, the 1 1/8-mile Blame headlined six stakes on the “Stephen Foster Preview Day” card, including a trio on the main track.
Campaigned by Michael J. Mackin’s Lucky Seven Stable, Rattle N Roll overcame being bottled up along the rail through the far turn, rallying to catch Call Me Fast after extracting himself from trouble. Call Me Fast got first run, launching an outside move on the far turn to strike the front and draw clear in upper stretch, but Rattle N Roll would not be denied late, getting up to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
Brian Hernandez Jr. was up on the four-year-old colt for Kenny McPeek, and Rattle N Roll left the starting gate as the 1.74-1 favorite among eight runners. He was timed in 1:48.93.
After opening the year with a close fourth in the New Orleans Classic (G2) in late March, Rattle N Roll followed with 1 1/4-length victory over Call Me Fast in the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland a month later. He came back to win the Pimlico Special (G3) by a nose three weeks later, and Rattle N Roll earned his third consecutive graded win while making a 15-day turnaround in the Blame.
“Two starts ago at Keeneland (Call Me Fast) closed late and we were able to hold him off,” Hernandez said. “Today, he got the first run on us but once I tipped my horse outside at the eighth pole, he really responded well and finished up strong. This win is a credit to Kenny and his team. This horse always seems to show up and run well, and he came back today on quick rest. Kenny and his team had him ready to go.”
Call Me Fast, the 9-2 third choice, held second by nearly a length over the late-running Happy American at 14-1. Barber Road, Santin, Pioneer of Medina, Cooke Creek, and Masqueparade completed the order of finish.
With his seventh stakes win, Rattle N Roll pushed his career earnings past $1.5 million from an 18-8-1-2 line. The Grade 1-winning juvenile struggled early in his three-year-old season, but Rattle N Roll turned things around with victories in the Oklahoma Derby (G3), off-the-turf American Derby, and St. Louis Derby last summer/fall.
McPeek noted the progression as a four-year-old.
“I think this horse benefitted at the end of last year and into this year running in Grade 2s and Grade 3,” McPeek said. “It taught him to mature. Brian had this horse loaded at the rail and it got a little tight there in midstretch but, it was a credit to him and the horse for being patient and getting room to close.”
Bred by St. Simon Place in Kentucky, Rattle N Roll was a $55,000 Keeneland November weanling who commanded $210,000 as a September yearling at the same venue. He’s by the Curlin stallion Connect and out of the Johannesburg mare Jazz Tune, a descendant of the influential matron Dance Review. Another hailing from this female line is multiple Grade 1 victress Cavorting, dam of $2.8 million-earner and recent Apple Blossom (G1) heroine Clairiere.
Idiomatic made all the pace and earned her first graded win in the $224,750 Shawnee (G3), taking the prep for the Fleur de Lis (G2) by 2 1/2 lengths. Florent Geroux guided the four-year-old filly to a short lead at the break, and the Juddmonte homebred dictated moderate fractions in :23.82, :47.87, and 1:11.81, saving plenty for the final stages as the lone speed.
Brad Cox trains the regally-bred daughter of Curlin. Idiomatic is the first foal from the stakes-winning and multiple Grade 1-placed Lockdown, a daughter of First Defence and a half-sister to champion older female Close Hatches, the dam of multiple Grade 2 winner and dual classic-placed Tacitus.
Off as 2.20-1 second choice among seven rivals, Idiomatic turned back a bid from Sixtythreecaliber nearing the completion of the far turn and rolled home, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.13.
Sixtythreecaliber held second at 11-1 by 1 1/4 lengths over even-money favorite Frost Point, who rallied belatedly from last on the far turn but was left with too much to do behind the loose-on-the-lead winner. Moon Swag, Hidden Connection, Soul of an Angel, and Travel Column followed.
Idiomatic has never finished off the board from eight career starts (8-5-1-2). She won consecutive allowances over the Tapeta at Turfway Park this winter and stretched her win streak to three with a convincing tally in the Latonia S. in late March. The bay filly switched back to dirt for her most recent outing, a runner-up in the Ruffian (G2) at Belmont on May 6.
“We’re very proud of her effort today routing on the dirt,” Cox said. “She ran well last time out in the Ruffian going a mile on dirt, but it seems like two turns suits her better. She was based at Turfway this winter and ran well over the Tapeta track. We were confident she’d be able to handle the switch back to dirt, and she proved that today.
Cox mentioned the $500,000 Delaware H. (G2) on July 8 as the next target for Idiomatic.
Following a pair of top-class placings overseas, Gunite stylishly returned to the winner’s circle in the $224,500 Aristides S. at six furlongs. The 9-10 favorite stalked behind a fast and contested pace, struck the front in midstretch and drove clear to win by about two lengths. Gunite confirmed himself as a major player in the male sprint division.
Steve Asmussen trains the four-year-old son of Gun Runner for owner/breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds, and Gunite stopped the teletimer in 1:08.46 with regular rider Tyler Gaffalione. The Grade 1-winning juvenile notched his seventh stakes triumph, including a trio under the Twin Spires, and Gunite opened the year with a second to champion Elite Power in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G2) in Saudi Arabia and a third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) at Meydan.
“He sat a really comfortable trip from just off the pace,” Gaffalione said. “He broke a little bit slower but settled in nicely to stride. He’s a very exciting horse and can keep maturing with age.”
The dark bay colt has now earned more than $1.7 million from a 17-8-5-2 record. Gunite sandwiched a runner-up in the Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) between four stakes wins last summer/fall, and he concluded his sophomore season with a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). The Kentucky-bred will target the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita this fall.
“Just like his sire Gun Runner, he seems to get better with age,” Asmussen said. “We’re very fortunate to train a horse like Gunite. We’ve noticed as he’s gotten older he has gotten faster and that’s a great sign moving forward for his campaign.”
Bango, winner of the last two runnings of the Aristides, made a nice move on the far turn to overhaul Sibelius and Strava, taking a clear lead into the stretch, but ultimately proved no match for Gunite. The 5-2 second choice wound up two lengths clear of late-running Tejano Twist in third. Next came Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Sibelius and Strava, who established an opening quarter-mile in :21.71 before coming under serious pressure.
Gunite hails from a classy female family. He’s out of the stakes-winning Simple Surprise, a daughter of Cowboy Cal.