Kentucky Derby Day Recap

There’s plenty to unpack from the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs on Saturday, but the headline performance came from Cody’s Wish, who maintained his perfect record at the track with another emotional victory in the G1 Churchill Downs Stakes. Matareya took the G1 Derby City Distaff in the same blue colours of Godolphin, while General Jim continued his upward trajectory in the G2 Pat Day Mile. On the Louisville lawn, the plaudits went to Up To The Mark, who made an impressive stakes breakthrough in the G1 Turf Classic, with Webslinger (G2 American Turf), Nobals (G2 Twin Spires Turf Sprint), and Fluffy Socks (G2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile) rounding out a terrific day of top-class racing. Here is the Kentucky Derby Day Recap!

Turf Classic Stakes

Mark makes a big impression, G1, $1,000,000, 1m 1f turf, 4yo+

The male turf division needed a new star and it may have found one in the shape of Up To The Mark, who made his stakes breakthrough in the Turf Classic – the highlight of the undercard at Churchill Downs on Saturday – when beating Hong Kong Harry and Spooky Channel in cakewalk style.

The 5-2 favorite, who had made his stakes debut when third in a G1 over a mile just three weeks earlier, is clearly on the fast track to the top and had no trouble here, sitting a little way off the pace set by Bye Bye Melvin before cruising into contention five wide around the turn.

He was in command before the eighth pole and cleared right away to win by three and three-quarter lengths, with a length and a quarter separating the rallying but never threatening Hong Kong Harry and Spooky Channel.

The victory was a little compensation for trainer Todd Pletcher, jockey Irad Ortiz and majority owner Mike Repole, who had suffered the late scratch of Derby favorite Forte just that morning.

“I think he’s going to be one of the top turf horses this year,” said Repole. “This win, on a tough day for me, is very special.”

Up To The Mark is three-for-four since being switched to the lawn, and Pletcher will now aim his new star at the ten-furlong G1 Manhattan at Belmont Park on June 10.

Turf Classic Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Up To The Mark7.264.002.96
2. Hong Kong Harry 4.122.88
3. Spooky Channel  3.32

Winning time: 1m 47.31s

Turf Classic Stakes Race Video

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Churchill Downs Stakes

Wish comes true again, G1, $750,000, 7f dirt, 4yo+

This is the gift to racing that keeps on giving. The brilliant Cody’s Wish took his winning streak to five in the Churchill Downs, hauling off without breaking sweat to beat Hoist The Gold and Tejano Twist and write the latest chapter in the heartwarming, tear-jerking story of a boy and his horse.

By now everyone knows about the otherworldly connection between Cody’s Wish and disabled teenager Cody Dorman, who was waiting in the winner’s circle for his pal to return and never had a moment’s concern about the 3-5 favorite, who is now unbeaten in five at this track.

On his first start of 2023 Cody’s Wish did it like he always does, swooping from the back to the front under Junior Alvarado, leading at the eighth-pole and breezing away to win by four and three-quarter lengths, with a half-length between the place and show horses. The clock stopped less than a second outside the track record.

“He just smoked ‘em. He was so great. But this is more than a horse race for us,” said trainer Bill Mott. “When he came in he ducked his head in front of Cody, he knew he was there. It’s pretty special, what those two have between them.”

The fairytale will hopefully continue. The next target for Cody’s Wish – eight-for-12 lifetime, never off the board, three G1s, $1.7m banked – is the G1 Metropolitan (Met Mile) at Belmont Park on June 10.

Churchill Downs Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Cody’s Wish3.442.902.64
2. Hoist The Gold 6.344.48
3. Tejano Twist  5.04

Winning time: 1m 21.17s

Churchill Downs Stakes Race Video

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Cody’s Wish takes home the G1 2023 Churchill Downs Stakes #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

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Derby City Distaff Stakes

Matareya rides her luck, G1, $750,000, 7f dirt, 4yo+ females

Sometimes, of course, the best horse doesn’t win. Matareya made the most of her luck to nail her second G1 in the Derby City Distaff, staying clear of Wicked Halo and the odds-on Goodnight Olive, who had nowhere to go all the way down the stretch and can be counted a pretty unlucky loser.

Plenty of praise is due to Matareya first, though, the 5-1 third-choice surging to the lead at the top of the stretch under Flavien Prat and maintaining the gallop all the way to the wire, getting home by a length from Wicked Halo, who had kept – perfectly legitimately, just shrewd racecraft – Goodnight Olive under lock and key on the rail through the final two furlongs. Jockey Irad Ortiz didn’t ride his best race – there were only six runners, and plenty of room out there – but as they say, that’s racing.

“I was stuck the entire way,” said Ortiz. “I couldn’t get out. I had tons of horse but no place to go.”

The Brad Cox-trained Matareya, who is now six-for-11 including the G1 Acorn and the G2 Eight Belles on this weekend last year, was contributing to a majestic weekend for owner Godolphin, who also had Kentucky Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous and the aforementioned Cody’s Wish victorious in the famous blue silks. Matareya is earmarked for the seven-furlong G1 Ballerina at Saratoga on August 26, and a potential rematch with Goodnight Olive.

 

Derby City Distaff Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Matareya12.124.962.32
2. Wicked Halo 4.342.16
3. Goodnight Olive  2.10

Winning time: 1m 21.87s

Derby City Distaff Stakes Race Video

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Matareya conquers the G1 2023 City Distaff #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports #Horsesoftiktok

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Pat Day Mile Stakes

General wins the battle, G2, $500,000, 1m dirt, 3yo

Both sides of the sport were on show in the Pat Day Mile, the great and the gloomy, with General Jim outlasting Fort Bragg in an uplifting stretch duel before news broke that longshot Freezing Point had to be euthanized after sustaining an injury early in the race.

Blinkers have made a big difference to General Jim, now two-for-two in the headgear after wearing down Fort Bragg in a pitched battle that began when the pair hooked up at the top of the lane. There was barely an inch between them for a furlong and a half, until 5-1 second-choice General Jim asserted in the closing stages and hit the wire a neck in front.

Gilmore came on late for third, three and a half lengths further back, but the favorite Kangaroo Court dropped right away to finish 11th after contesting early.

“When I got to the top of the stretch I thought I had it, but that was a pretty good battle,” said winning jockey Luis Saez. “He has plenty of talent.”

The victory had personal significance for veteran trainer Shug McGaughey, who was winning the race named after his long-time ally for the first time. Pat Day rode the all-time great Easy Goer, McGaughey’s best horse, to win the Belmont Stakes, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1989.

Pat Day Mile Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. General Jim12.046.264.76
2. Fort Bragg 7.225.10
3. Gilmore  9.32

Winning time: 1m 34.43s

Pat Day Mile Stakes Race Video

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General Jim wins the 2023 Pat Day Mile #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports #Horsesoftiktok

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American Turf Stakes

Webslinger makes it stick, G2, $500,000, 1m 1/16 turf, 3yo

There was another breathless finish in the American Turf, a three-horse war won by longshot Webslinger, who made his Graded-stakes breakthrough at the expense of barnmates Far Bridge and Major Dude.

For the first mile the race was all about Mo Stash, who made a bold bid to go coast-to-coast until the posse inhaled him in deep stretch. That left rail runner Far Bridge and 22-1 chance Webslinger down the center of the track to take it to the wire, with the rallying second-choice Major Dude getting into the argument too, and Webslinger had just enough in the tank to grab the dollars by a nose, with a half-length between second and third.

Mo Stash was brave to hold on for fourth place, while the favored Carl Spackler looked a big threat at the top of the lane but emptied and faded to finish eighth.

“He’s improving,” said winning jockey Javier Castellano, who had a Derby-winning ride on Mage in his near future. “He broke well and finished well and he’s developing in the right way.”

Webslinger is now three-for-eight with his only poor performance coming in the 2022 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Trainer Mark Casse will now send him back to the big leagues for the ten-furlong Belmont Derby on July 8.

American Turf Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Webslinger47.3415.768.28
2. Far Bridge 6.704.74
3. Major Dude  3.74

Winning time: 1m 41.54s

American Turf Stakes Race Video

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Webslinger takes the 2023 American Turf #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports

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Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes

No trouble for Nobals, G2, $500,000, 5 1/2f turf, 3yo+

On an afternoon that tended to favor closers, Nobals bucked that trend to pull off a shock 38-1 score in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint, going gate-to-wire to turn back Motorious and Go Bears Go and post a first success at Graded level.

The gelding, whose slightly ribald name nods to that fact, was soon on the lead from his inside post under Gerardo Corrales and that was all she wrote. Nobals held a daylight advantage with a furlong and a half to run, and although third-choice Motorious was reeling him in all the way to the line the longshot had three-quarters of a length in hand when the camera clicked.

Go Bears Go kept on well for third, a length and a half further back, but favorite and 2022 winner Arrest Me Red could never get busy and finished fifth.

“We were coming here anyway,” said trainer Larry Rivelli, who later saddled Two Phil’s to be runner-up in the same striped silks in the Kentucky Derby. “We thought we’d put him in a race and see how he did – and didn’t he run good?”

This was the first stakes win on the lawn for Nobals, whose earlier stakes scores had come on the synthetic surfaces at Arlington, Turfway Park, and Woodbine.

Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Nobals78.4234.6217.56
2. Motorious 5.764.46
3. Go Bears Go  7.12

Winning time: 1m 02.45s

Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes Race Video

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The 2023 Turf Sprint was taken by Nobals #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports #Horsesoftiktok

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Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes

Perfect fit for Socks, G2, $500,000, 1m turf, 4yo+ females

It has been a long time between drinks for Fluffy Socks, but she bounced back with a career-best in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, snapping a seven-race losing streak going back to October 2021 when seeing off odds-on Spendarella and Speak Of The Devil.

Her jockey Irad Ortiz had been held to ransom aboard Goodnight Olive in the previous race (see above) but kept his cool here, sitting chilly on the 9-2 second-choice as barn mate Haughty set the fractions.

As they straightened for home Ortiz needed racing room and this time he got it, sending Fluffy Socks through a gap and into a lead she maintained all the way to the line. She had a length to spare over the persistent Spendarella, with the same margin back to her other barn mate Speak Of The Devil.

“She’s always been a bit of a bridesmaid, and I began to wonder if she just prefers it that way, but she was able to punch through today and finish off her race well,” said trainer Chad Brown. “Sometimes you get through, sometimes you don’t – this time Irad got through.”

A five-for-18 resume with nine second and third-places is a testament to Fluffy Socks’s bridesmaid tendency, but nevertheless, she has hit the board twice in G1 company and is just a handful of pocket change away from being a millionaire.

Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Fluffy Socks11.963.922.64
2. Spendarella 2.722.28
3. Speak Of The Devil  3.10

Winning time: 1m 35.53s

Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes

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Fluffy Socks wins the G2T 2023 Distaff Turf Mile #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horses #Horse #FYP #Sports #Horsesoftiktok

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