Maker's Mark Mile 2023: Chez Pierre Struck Gold

There was a shock to open the weekend’s action at Keeneland, with Chez Pierre making his Graded-stakes breakthrough when trouncing dual Breeders’ Cup winner Modern Games in Friday’s G1 Maker’s Mark Mile 2023. The supporting feature was dominated by trainer Wesley Ward, who nailed the exacta in the ungraded Limestone with Love Reigns and Lady Hollywood.

Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes

G1, $600,000, 1m turf, 4yo+

Pierre ends Games hot streak

The A-lister was relegated to a supporting role at Keeneland on Friday, when Chez Pierre upset the Maker’s Mark Mile with the performance of his life, seeing off dual Breeders’ Cup hero Modern Games and Up To The Mark to make his first Graded victory one from the top shelf.

Modern Games was 2-5 favourite and Chez Pierre was 9-1 fourth-choice, but Chez Pierre had the run of the race, leading early before allowing Dr Zempf to do a little donkey-work. He regained the advantage at the top of the stretch and quickly drew right off to win unchallenged by three and a half lengths in stakes-record time.

The reigning US champion turf male Modern Games was caught too far back and although he rallied through the final furlong he was well beaten, eventually taking the ‘place’ slot from Up To The Mark by a neck.

“The sky’s the limit,” said winning jockey Flavien Prat of the five-year-old gelding, who began his career in France and is now six-for-seven lifetime, although he is evidently hard to train as he has never raced more than twice in any year.

His trainer Arnaud Delacour will now comb the programme book for more G1s for his new stable star, with the Fourstardave at Saratoga on August 12 a potential long-term target, while Modern Games will return to Britain for the summer.

Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes 2023 Payouts

1. Chez Pierre20.846.663.80
2. Modern Games 2.422.10
3. Up To The Mark  3.40

Winning time: 1m 33.46s

Limestone Stakes

Ungraded, $250,000, 5 1/2f turf, 3yo fillies

Love conquers all for Ward

Wesley Ward was the man of the hour in the Limestone, sending out the top two on the tote board and then watching them fill the exacta, with Love Reigns prevailing over barnmate Lady Hollywood and My Sweet Affair.

Accomplished Girl set a hectic pace – 44 and two-fifths for the half-mile – as Love Reigns got shuffled right back in the field and had plenty to do in the stretch. A gap closed on her as she was moving, but Joel Rosario took her to the rail and the 5-2 favourite finished like a whirlwind to run down Lady Hollywood in the last few jumps and score by a half-length. The rallying My Sweet Affair was beaten the same margin into third.

“These are the two toughest three-year-old fillies sprinting on turf in the country,” said Ward, who will now send Love Reigns to Royal Ascot in June for the five-furlong all-aged G1 King’s Stand.

Limestone Stakes Payouts

1. Love Reigns7.384.263.48
2. Lady Hollywood 5.144.04
3. My Sweet Affair  5.82

Winning time: 1m 02.45s

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