HENDERSON, Ky.— After playing the role of bridesmaid in his first two appearances at Ellis Park, Injunction not only found his way into the Pea Patch’s winner’s circle Aug. 6, but he earned a couple career milestones along the way.
The 4-year-old Skipshot gelding earned his first stakes victory in brave fashion Saturday, doing the dirty work on the front end before turning back challenges from West Will Power and Last Samurai in the lane to capture the inaugural running of the one mile $70,000 R.A. “Cowboy” Jones Overnight Stakes in track record fashion.
The “Cowboy” Jones was named in honor of the jockey and Ellis Park icon who died April 25 at the age of 79.
“I know R.A. Jones meant a lot to a lot of people and to Ellis Park so it’s an honor to take the victory home,” said Nick Vaccarezza, co-owner of Injunction and assistant to his father and trainer, Carlo Vaccarezza.
Injunction himself has held plenty of sentiment amongst the Vaccarezza clan since they purchased him as a 2-year-old.
It took four tries for the chestnut gelding to break his maiden, although two of his first three losses were runner-up efforts going eight furlongs over the Ellis Park main track. Since finishing sixth in the Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes (G2) to open his 2022 campaign, Injunction hasn’t been worse than fourth in five subsequent outings with Saturday’s effort representing his fourth win from 11 career starts.
“When we got him when he was 2, he was a little…ehhhh,” Nick Vaccarezza said. “We worked hard on him, and we got him here. He’s got such a big heart. He beat the horse he had to beat (Last Samurai) and another horse coming on the outside and he still fought. You can’t train heart and the horse has heart.”
Sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the six-horse field, Injunction got away well out of post No. 1 under jockey Rafael Bejarano and was able to hold a short lead over Last Samurai as those two raced side by side through fractions of :23.32 and :45.76. That pair stayed glued to one another coming off the far turn but had a threat in West Will Power looming up on the far outside.
Though Last Samurai seemed poised to go by his rival along the rail, Injunction refused to yield and had enough left to hold off the late surge from West Will Power, hitting the wire a head in front in a time of 1:34.33 over a track rated fast.
“I’m really happy for the team for doing a wonderful job with this horse,” Bejarano said. “I didn’t have another really except to send to the lead. I was expecting to have a little pressure in the beginning, but my horse ran the whole way. He ran his heart out until the end.”
West Will Power got up for second, three-quarters of a length in front of Last Samurai in third. Title Ready, Mailman Money, and Night Ops rounded out the order.
Four horses scratched including graded stakes winner Helium.
Bred in Kentucky by Mikhail Yanakov and owned by Nick Vaccarezza in partnership with J&G Stables, Injunction improved his career earnings to $316,877.
Ellis Park Press Release
Photo: Injuction (Coady Photography)