LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Three horses made a thrilling dash for the finish line in Saturday night’s second running of the $275,000 Bourbon Trail ® for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs but it was Gary and Mary West’s homebred Home Brew who emerged as a nose winner over Creative Minister with War Campaign another nose back in third.
Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Home Brew covered the 1 3/16 miles on a fast track in 1:56.01.
Big Blue Line, at odds of 24-1, set the pace in the marathon for nine sophomore runners through fractions of :23.62, :47.70 and 1:12.03 as Home Brew, winner of this year’s $150,000 Oaklawn Stakes and $152,500 Pegasus at Monmouth, tracked along the inside with unbeaten 2-1 favorite Saint Tapit just to the eventual winner’s outside.
As the field left the final turn for home, it became clear that the longshot leader and the bettors’ top choice were tiring. Home Brew slipped through an opening along the rail at the head of the stretch as St. Louis Derby runner-up War Campaign ranged into contention three-wide and Preakness Stakes (GI) third Creative Minister rallied down the center of the track after rating in seventh early on. The trio fought gamely in the final eighth of a mile but it was a head-bob that determined Home Brew as the winner of a three-horse photo.
New York-based Saint Tapit, who entered the race with a perfect record in two starts, finished last.
The victory was worth $163,920 and increased Home Brew’s earnings to $482,545 with a record of 5-1-0 in eight starts.
“I kept asking him for more in deep stretch and he stuck out his head and didn’t want to lose,” Santana said. “He broke sharp out of the gate and he took me to the early lead. I really didn’t ask him at all to get into the position he did. We were able to keep our position at the rail around the turn and the opening came for him.”
Previously, Home Brew finished fourth over a sloppy track in the $500,000 West Virginia Derby (GIII) at Mountaineer. Blinkers were added for Saturday’s Bourbon Trail.
“I think adding the blinkers really helped him keep his focus early in the race and be close to the pace,” said Cox’s assistant trainer Jorje Abrego. “Paco Lopez, who rode him in his last two starts, suggested them and it worked. He’s bred to like long distances and handled stretching out perfectly.”
Home Brew is a Kentucky-bred son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of the Tapit mare Omnitap.
Home Brew returned $13.40, $6.88 and $3.60 as the 5-1 fifth betting choice. Creative Minister, under Brian Hernandez Jr. at odds of 6-1, returned $7.12 and $3.94. War Campaign, with Corey Lanerie up, paid $3.88 to show at 9-1.
It was another 3 ¼ lengths back to Gilded Age, who was followed in order by Ethereal Road, Warrior Johny, Big Blue Line, Maximum Impact and Saint Tapit.
The Bourbon Trail ® honors the profound history and proud tradition of “America’s Official Native Spirit” when the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) established the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® in 1999, a road trip-style experience for bourbon lovers to visit the Bluegrass State’s signature distilleries.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail ® and Bourbon Trail ® are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association used by Churchill Downs Inc. pursuant to license. The Kentucky Distillers’ Association and its member distilleries ask that you please enjoy Kentucky Bourbon responsibly.
Churchill Downs Press Release
Photo: Home Brew (rail) wins the Bourbon Trail (Coady Photography)