A last-to-first race on the stretch highlighted the early parts of Saturday’s races at Churchill Downs.
Speak of the Devil provided early excitement for the 148th Kentucky Derby undercard races, which enjoyed a better time than Kentucky Oaks and Friday’s undercard events.
Stay up to date with recaps of several Derby Day races here.
Complete 2022 Kentucky Derby finish order
1. Rich Strike
5. Mo Donegal
6. Barber’s Route
7. Porto Tawny
8. Happy smile
9. Tiz the Bomb
11. Classic pavement
13. Pride of the Crown
14. Happy Jack
16. White Shelter
17. Load it up
19. Pioneer of Medina
20. Summer is tomorrow
Race 7: Former Kentucky Derby prospect Jack Christopher wins the Pat Day Mile
Jack Christopher’s bid to qualify for the 2022 Kentucky Derby may have ended in November, but he still managed to win on Derby day at Churchill Downs.
The undefeated 3-5 favorite picked up a three-length win in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile, giving trainer Chad Brown his second victory of the afternoon.
Jack Christopher won his first two starts, earning points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but was withdrawn the day before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in Del Mar in November. He eventually needed surgery on his left tibia.
“After a layoff, you never know because you run a mile in really good ground on Derby day,” Brown said. “I chose this race because I wanted him to race against his own age group. I really didn’t want to sprint with the horse. worried if we ran it in a straight sprint.
“I took those races out of the game and wanted him in a race that allowed him to stretch his legs a bit and at least get comfortable at some point in the race and protect him to go from the front. Admittedly, it worked today.
Jack Christopher was just wide of the lead after the first quarter and then made his move with three furlongs to go.
He took the lead on the final corner and took a 3 3/4 victory in 1:34.81.
“Jose (Ortiz) did a great job with this horse,” Brown said. “He had speed from the start, made the right decision to use it early to get up and out in the clear. He really took control of the race from there.
Pappacap finished second. My prankster finished third.
Race 9: Stolen Base defeats Balnikhov in the American Turf Stakes
The American Turf Stakes featured one of the most exciting finishes on Saturday as Stolen Base battled with Balnikhov in the stretch to win the 1 1/16 mile Grade 2 race and the $500,000 prize.
“It was a great day,” said jockey Flavien Prat, who earned his second straight American Turrf Stakes win after winning last year with Du Jour. Prat also won the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile with Speak of the Devil earlier on Saturday. “I was surprised to be as close as he was. Today (Stolen Base) was really in the running, so it was great.
Dowagiac Chief took advantage of a clean break to take the lead for the first half mile of the race, but Red Danger and Coinage weren’t far behind. Red Danger passed Dowagiac Chief at the ¾ mile mark, but then Stolen Base and Balnikhov started to take the lead. The two horses clashed on the home stretch, but Stolen Base had just enough to pull off the photo-finish.
“He took the lead on me, but my horse regrouped and fought back,” Prat said.
It was Stolen Base’s first win in four starts in 2022 and second overall first place in nine career starts.
Stolen Base paid $13.20, $6.60, and $4.00. Second place Balnikhov paid $7.20 and $4.40, while third place Sy Dog paid $3.00.
Race 8: Obligatory wins the Derby City Distaff Stakes for the third victory in a row
Obligatory had to fight for their third consecutive win, but the effort was rewarded with a $750,000 Grade 1 Derby City Distaff Stakes win.
Coach Bill Mott was brought up on Mandatory in his fourth season, but he wasn’t confident in his early run. Obligatory started in last place but passed Four Graces and Just One Time on the far corner to pull off the 14-length comeback.
“I never felt confident until they got to 70 yards,” Mott said. “When she was on the three-eights ballot and the others were on the quarter ballot, I said, ‘We’ve got a lot to catch up on. “”
And Obligatory made things up in a hurry. As the 7-to-2 favorite on paper, she didn’t look like she had the 3-to-1 speed that Just One Time had. Mott was dazzled.
“It was impressive. I was impressed,” Mott said. “I’m very rarely impressed, but I’ve been impressed. Her stretch run here is her weapon. She loves the track and she loves this stretch.”
Race 5: Speak of the Devil goes from last to first to win the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile
Kentucky Derby Day began with a thriller after Speak of the Devil staged a last-to-first rally to win the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.
Seconds into the first stakes race of the day, coach Chad Brown’s In Italian (GB) took an early lead as his 2-on-1 favorite Speak of the Devil slipped in last.
But Speak of the Devil’s furious rally around the final corner sent the 4-year-old filly flying ahead of the other five horses in the field. In Italian and Wakanaka finished second and third respectively. The win gave Brown, who coached last year’s winner Blowout, his second straight win in the $500,000 Grade 2 race.
What there is to know:Kentucky Derby post positions for the 2022 race
“So lucky to have this filly,” Brown said. “Every week it got better and showed everything you wanted to see.”
Speak of the Devil paid $4, $3 and $2.20 and became the fourth consecutive international horse to win the turf mile. Brown hopes his victory is a sign of good things to come for the day.
Race 6: Three Technique picks up first Knicks Go victory
Three Technique added to the Derby excitement as the 36-1 underdog found another late tackle to win the Knicks Go.
The Knicks Go is a one-mile race for horses that haven’t won a high-stakes race in 2020-21 with a $160,000 purse.
“Today was a great opportunity,” said jockey Rafael Bejarano. “I knew it was a long shot, but I thought he was going to run well. He loves this track (and) the fast surface.”
Gun It enjoyed a strong start from the start but quickly fell back into the pack after the half mile of the race. Dream Shake passed Gun It to take the lead for a while, but Three Technique fired up and passed Dream Shake to claim first place with a time of 1:35.48.
“He likes to be in the middle of the track,” Bejarano said. “He likes to be in the middle of the group. I just have to find that position and go from there. You have to play by ear.”
Three Technique paid $75.60, $35.20 and $14.80. Injunction in second place paid $7.00 and $5.20, while South Bend paid $5.20 in third place.
The top spot was the first for Three Technique in 2022 and the fourth overall victory in 23 starts.
– Jonathan Saxon