Closethegame Sugar Shuts Down Skelly in Aristides

June 1, 2024

Closethegame Sugar surges to victory in the Aristides (Jenny Doyle/Past The Wire)

Churchill Downs Press Release

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Closethegame Sugar, owned by trainer Adam Rice and New York Mets’ closer Edwin Diaz’s Sugar Diaz LLC, scored the biggest upset in the 36-year history of the $260,000 Aristides (Listed) when the 4-year-old gelding ran down crack sprinter and odds-on 1-4 favorite Skelly to win Saturday’s six-furlong sprint at Churchill Downs by one length.

Closethegame Sugar, off at odds of 18-1, paid $2 mutuels of $38.92, $7.92 and $4.72.

Skelly, a deserving favorite with a record of 15-10-4-0—$1,574,163 prior to the race, broke slowly for the third consecutive start but quickly rushed to the front to lead the field of seven through fractions of :21.73 and :44.19. Closethegame Sugar, under champion rider Irad Ortiz Jr., tracked along the inside in fourth down the backstretch, tipped out on the turn to move into third and powered home down the Churchill Downs stretch to collar Skelly inside the final 100 yards for the upset victory.

Closethegame Sugar clocked six furlongs over a “fast” track in 1:08.39 and earned $151,900 for the triumph.

“We broke well but just let him sort of get settled with the leaders going fast in front of us,” Ortiz Jr. said. “(Skelly) is a really nice horse but I knew my horse was ready to run a big race here this afternoon and he did.”

Runner-up Skelly, under Ricardo Santana Jr., paid $4.50 and :2.64 to place. Tejano Twist, at odds of 6-1 under Rafael Bejarano, was another length back in third and paid $2.90.

The order of finish was completed by Here Mi Song, Payne, Bourbon Heist and Angkor. Surly Furious was scratched.

This was Closethegame Sugar’s second stakes win. Last year, he won the $150,000 Mahony at 5 ½ furlongs on turf at Saratoga. He entered Saturday’s race off a second-place finish to Angkor in a Churchill Downs allowance on May 2.

“He came off a pretty long layoff last time here at Churchill running in the allowance race on Derby Day,” Rice said. “I thought he may have needed that race and he came back really strong today. Irad (Ortiz Jr.) gave him a great ride and is a difference maker. We won a stakes last year on turf but having him show another dimension today on dirt was very impressive.”

Closethegame Sugar is a son of Girvin out of the Magna Graduate mare Casual Cocktail. He was bred in Kentucky by the Gov. Brereton C. Jones.

The Aristides is named in honor of the inaugural Kentucky Derby winner of 1875.

@fatbaldguyracin hits a good % of winners but I have never saw anyone on the roll @jonathanstettin is on. Making very tough game look easy!

Justin Golden @justin181174 View testimonials

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