On Monday at Kentucky Downs, a raspy Eric Foster stood next to the track’s owner Doug Miller outside the winner’s circle. The jockey’s trainer searched for the right words to express his first graded races victory.
Foster said of Kitodan, who pulled off a 20-1 upset in the Grade 3, $750,000 Dueling Grounds Derby, “I just believed we had him ready.” I often repeat it back to Doug when he says, “I just want to be ready for when everything goes right,” and he always answers, “I do.”
Miller chuckled and slapped Foster on the shoulder, saying, “Everything went great today.
To win the Dueling Grounds Derby for 3-year-olds on Monday, Kitodan pulled away from the Todd Pletcher-trained Grand Sonata by four lengths. The colt by Point of Entry completed 1 5/16 miles in 2:15.41 and earned $43.48.
With regard to the Hall of Fame trainer, Foster remarked, “I don’t know whether I can outrun Todd in a footrace. But I am aware that my horse beat in this horse racing day.
Prior to the weather forcing a postponement to Labor Day, a Kentucky Downs event that featured the Dueling Grounds Derby was slated on Sunday. Kitodan
Kitodan helped Corrales get his first win in a graded stakes, much like it did for Foster. Prior to focusing the most of his time on the Kentucky circuit in 2020, he ran his races primarily in Ohio. His career total of victories stands at 706.
When asked if the surprise victory aboard Kitodan was the biggest of such victories, Corrales replied, “Certainly.”
In a field of 12 sophomores, Kitodan made his move from the fourth post. Throughout the early parts of the race, Corrales kept his steed in ninth place while leader Double Clutch set crawling fractions of 25.63 seconds, 52.29 seconds, and 1:17.62.
Around the far turn, the winner gained momentum, seized control halfway down the stretch, and ultimately proved to be the best. Grand Sonata, a Grade 3 winner, outran Mount Rundle in third place by 3 1/2 lengths as she raced Kitodan to the finish line.
For trainer Brad Cox, Ready to Purrform started as the 3-2 favorite and tracked the early pace before fading to sixth.
Brooklyn Foster, Bill Wargel, and Miller all run Kitodan under the Foster Family Racing banner. The Fosters, who are from western Kentucky, have won races at Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Horseshoe Indianapolis, and Turfway Park this year, primarily at the claiming level.
Kitodan was purchased by the organization for $80,000 following his third-place showing in a Churchill Downs allowance event in May. In April at Turfway, the horse won the Rushaway Stakes while being trained by Mike Maker.
In June, Kitodan defeated Churchill’s Audubon Stakes at 40-1 odds in his first outing for Foster. Over the lawn, it took 1 1/8 miles for that victory.
Foster added, “This is the second time we have to run him on the turf against 3-year-olds. He’s getting more powerful. The distance was going to be on our side. Bill told Maker when they ran into each other in the stakes room at Churchill. Before we ran in the Audubon, that is. He is merely demonstrating his will to continue.
When older horses were present, Kitodan finished fifth in the Evan Williams Turf Mile Stakes at Ellis Park last month after finishing fourth at Churchill in the off-the-turf American Derby in July.
Kitodan was written out by bettors on Monday as a result of his two off-the-board finishes; his 20-1 odds at post time were double what they were in the morning. However, the horse finished strongly to give his connections the victory of a lifetime.
Foster said, “I just can’t hardly talk. I’ve never lost my voice in such a way, so obviously I was quite excited.
Rosario scores Vergara’s goal to give Dueling Grounds Oaks a slim victory.
Joel Rosario ran away with 17 winners at Kentucky Downs’ single-meet record last year, shattering the previous mark. He didn’t compete in the first two days of the 2022 meet. But on Monday he made up for it with a gutsy stakes score.
Skims was defeated by a head by Vergara under rider Rosario in the $500,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. With odds of 4-1, the Noble Mission filly returned $10.96 after traveling 1 5/16 miles in 2:14.95.
Vergara, a Graham Motion-trained horse, entered after placing second in the Ontario Colleen Stakes on August 6 at Woodbine (G3). After winning the Tepin Stakes at Aqueduct in November of last year, she achieved her second career stakes victory.
Vergara managed the early tempo on Monday in Franklin as Turnerloose raced through fractions of 25.40 and 50.67 seconds. When Rosario’s ride advanced into the far turn, Skims challenged it, setting up a tight battle.
Vergara got the better of her by digging in along the fence with the Shug McGaughey-trained Skims to her outside. California Angel, in third place, and New Year’s Eve, the 6-5 favorite, completed the superfecta behind the top two.
Joel riding her was fantastic, Motion said over the phone to Kentucky Downs’ public relations staff. “He took her on a great ride. I was unsure if she would want to travel so far. But it was evident that she had no issue covering the distance. To win a race like that makes me happy. I haven’t done it there at Kentucky Downs for a while.
The mounts for Rosario, Tyler Gaffalione, and Florent Geroux were set for Kentucky Downs on Sunday and Saratoga on Monday. These three jockeys had to decide between the two circuits since Kentucky Downs had to move its Sunday card to Labor Day due to weather.
While Geroux remained in New York, Gaffalione and Rosario left the Spa for the European-style course at the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Rosario took her first ride on Vergara.
Regarding his record-breaking performance in the Kentucky Downs meet in 2021, Rosario said. “That was a special year for me and everyone else, my agent, and everyone involved.” “Those were priceless moments, and we anticipate more of them.”