LEXINGTON, Ky. – Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Westerberg’s Golden Pal made a successful return to the races at Keeneland by scoring a 2¼-length victory over Extravagant Kid in the 25th running of the $200,000 Woodford (G2) presented by TVG for 3-year-olds and up.
Trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by John Velazquez, Golden Pal covered the 5½ furlongs on a turf course rated as good in 1:03.12. It is the second victory in the race for Ward, who saddled No Nay Never to the win in 2014.
Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) here last fall in gate-to-wire fashion, Golden Pal flashed his speed out of the gate again Saturday carving out a :21.51 first quarter while on an uncontested lead.
He maintained a clear advantage to the head of the stretch when he was pressured on the outside by Firecrow and inside by Johnny Unleashed. At the three-sixteenths pole, Firecrow briefly stuck his head in front, but the advantage was short-lived as Golden Pal quickly kicked clear to cruise to victory.
“He was very game. Before the race – I never rode him so I asked Julio (Garcia, an exercise rider and jockey for trainer Wesley Ward). He said, ‘Just put your hands down and he’ll run for you; even if he gets passed, he’ll run for you.’ I left him alone and when the other horse (Firecrow) came to him and put the head in front, I was like, ‘Hey, we got to come back and run.’ I got after him, and he gradually got away from the other horse. It took me two or three jumps to engage him back into the race, and after that he was pretty good,” Velazquez recounted.
A Keeneland sales graduate, Golden Pal added $120,000 to his bankroll to boost his earnings to $779,056 with a record of 7-4-2-0. He is a Florida-bred son of Uncle Mo out of the Midshipman mare Lady Shipman.
Golden Pal returned $3, $2.20 and $2.10. Extravagant Kid, ridden by Jose Ortiz, returned $3 and $2.40 and finished a half-length ahead of County Final, who paid $3.40 to show under Ricardo Santana Jr.
“(My trip) was perfect. It was where we wanted to be, and kudos to the winner. (Golden Pal) took pressure early on, and he kept going. We were second best, and we had a very good trip. I thought I had a good shot (coming down the stretch) in the last 300 yards. He’s a very nice horse,” said Ortiz.
“We are delighted,” exclaimed Walsh, trainer of Extravagant Kid. “We can never be disappointed with this horse. He ran great again. The winner is a very, very good horse. Extravagant Kid is a model of consistency.”
It was another head back to Johnny Unleashed in fourth with Inhalation (GB), Firecrow and Charcoal following in order.
Click here for a replay of the race and the post-race interview with winning connections.
Racing continues Sunday with a 10-race program beginning at 1 p.m. ET. The $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) for fillies and mares highlights three “Win and You’re In” Challenge races for the Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar.
For info on the Best Breeders’ Cup Seminar click HERE
Keeneland Press Release
Photo: Firecrow tried to catch him, but Golden Pal shook clear to victory in the Woodford Presented by TVG. (Keeneland/Coady Photography)