Two days of racing at Keeneland translated to two grade 1 wins with juveniles for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
After winning the opening-day Alcibiades Stakes (G1) Oct. 6 with Candied , these connections struck again Oct. 7 in taking the $580,750 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) with Locked , who defeated a stubborn rival in The Wine Steward . Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners owns Locked, a Gun Runner colt, with Gary Broad’s Walmac Farm.
Locked, ch, 2/c
Gun Runner — Luna Rosa, by Malibu Moon
Owner: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners (Aron Wellman) and Walmac Farm (Gary Broad)
Breeder: Rosa Colasanti (KY)
Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher
Jockey: Jose L. Ortiz
Information provided by Equibase at time of entry.
Gun Runner stands at Three Chimneys Farm.
KEESEP2022 • $425,000 • Consignor: Eaton Sales • Buyer: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Walmac Farm.
The Pletcher pair have something else in common: an automatic, paid berth into Breeders’ Cup races, with their Keeneland triumphs coming in designated Breeders’ Cup Challenge events. Candied qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), Locked for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). The two races are Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park.
Aron Wellman, founder and president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, marveled at the partnership buying about 15 yearlings annually at the sales and having “two of them show up on Keeneland’s Fall Stars Weekend in the two marquee grade 1 races for 2-year-olds and have them both win (and earn) automatic berths to the Breeders’ Cup.
“Candied is worth a fortune now. This horse probably just punched himself a ticket to a stallion barn somewhere. It’s just wild.”
Just as Candied came off the pace before rallying wide in notching her victory, so did Locked. Seventh and later sixth in the early going of the two-turn 1 1/16-mile race, as longshots Baytown Chatterbox and Just Steel set the pace through fractions of :24.47, :48.23, and 1:13.37, Locked kicked into gear on the second turn. Swooping four wide under jockey Jose Ortiz, he took the lead in early stretch but appeared to lose focus upon making the lead.
He lightly bumped with The Wine Steward , who had surged from an inside stalking position to be head and head with Locked entering the stretch. But the contact seemed to bring about renewed determination from Locked, who was up by a head with a furlong to run and by a half-length at the wire.
“You like to think it moves them forward,” Pletcher said of the hard-fought win. “He was hung out very wide on both turns. He didn’t have a real easy trip, but he’s talented enough to overcome it.”
He was timed on a fast track in 1:45.06, his time slower than Candied’s clocking of 1:44.17 the preceding day.
Locked, who improved to 2-for-3, paid $3.52 to win as the favorite. He had previously won a mile maiden race at Saratoga Race Course in fast time Sept. 1 after a debut third at six furlongs there Aug. 5.
“He’s a colt that we always felt like the farther, the better,” Pletcher said. “He kind of got a little bit of two-turn experience in that sort-of two-turn mile race at Saratoga, which is always a difficult race. But I thought he was super-impressive at Saratoga, and he’s just been a colt that’s done everything right since day one.”
Mike Maker, trainer of the previously unbeaten The Wine Steward, plans to discuss with owners Peter Proscia of Paradise Farms and David Staudacher whether to run the Vino Rosso colt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but that his initial feeling was to pursue the $2 million race.
Jockey Luis Saez, aboard The Wine Steward, said things got “a little tight” down the stretch.
“He got beat by a good horse. That horse had a long race already,” Saez said. “He got a little tired, but next time we’re going to be all right.”
The stakes-debuting Generous Tipper , trained by Kenny McPeek, rallied from last to be third, 3 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up, pleasing his rider, Brian Hernandez Jr.
The winner was a $425,000 purchase from the 2022 September Yearling Sale at Keeneland from the Eaton Sales consignment.