An extra furlong of distance was enough to allow Pico d’Oro to turn the tables on Medicine Tail in their latest meeting at Ellis Park and earn the son of Curlin his first career victory when he rallied from well back to capture the $100,000 RUNHAPPY Juvenile Stakes on Sunday.
The Juvenile Stakes was one of five stakes on the Ellis Park card, highlighted by the $200,000 RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Derby.
Trained by William Morey for owners Sandin Syndicate Stable LLC, Pico d’Oro was making his third career start and first try against stakes company when he headed to post for the seven-furlong Juvenile Stakes at Ellis Park. Though he finished off the board in his career debut at Churchill Downs on June 16, the bay colt showed promise when he ran second to Medicine Tail going six furlongs in a maiden special weight test at the Pea Patch on July 19.
Similar to his run that day, Medicine Tail found himself on the front end Sunday as he battled 4-5 race favorite Cowan through fractions of :22.29 and :45.64 according to Equibase. While that pair raced side by side on the lead, Pico d’Oro was at the back of the seven-horse field under jockey Joe Talamo but began rolling past rivals approaching the far turn.
Medicine Tail left Cowan in his wake as he entered the top of the stretch and appeared en route to his first stakes win when he opened up 2 ½ lengths on his challengers in the lane. With Talamo going to left-handed urging, Pico d’Oro kept on surging in the four path, catching his young rival in late stretch and drawing clear for a two-length victory.
“He ran a really good race today,” Talamo said of his mount. “I was actually pretty confident after watching his last replay. He ran a really good race to run second and galloped out really well. So we definitely thought the seven-eighths would help. I tell you what, he ran, too.
“The pace was pretty solid up front for us, and he ran them down. Very professional too. For breaking his maiden in a stakes, I definitely think he’s got a real bright future.”
Medicine Tail held for second, seven lengths clear of third-place finisher Perfect Mistake, while Cowan faded to fifth. The final time for the Juvenile Stakes was 1:23.95 over a fast track.
Bred in Kentucky by Southern Equine Stables out of the Bernardini mare Michelle d’Oro, Pico d’Oro improved his bankroll to $69,517 in earning his first win from three starts.
Morey said Pico d’Oro was the first horse for owner Gerry Sandin’s Sandlin Syndicate Stable. He said Sandin picked out the Ellis Park race.
“My owner, Gerry Sandin, was a big part of it,” he said. “He’s a good friend of mine. We played Little League baseball together 30 years ago, and this was the first horse he ever bought. So I’m really happy for him, mostly. He was a big part of picking this race and pointing for it and the horse did the race.”
Libertyrun, a son of Runhappy who became the first winner for his sire when he prevailed at Indiana Grand on July 8, fell just before the wire in the Juvenile Stakes and was humanely euthanized due to the injuries, owner James McIngvale’s Gallery Racing team posted on their social media account. Kentucky racing officials said Libertyrun was vanned back to the stable area and was evaluated by veterinarians who determined the sesamoid fractures in his left foreleg made it impossible to save the colt.
Quotes:Jockey Joe Talamo, winner, Pico d’Oro: “He ran a really good race today. I was actually pretty confident after watching his last replay. He ran a really good race to run second and galloped out really well. So we definitely thought the seven-eighths would help. I tell you what, he ran, too. The pace was pretty solid up front for us, and he ran them down. Very professional too. For breaking his maiden in a stakes, I definitely think he’s got a real bright future. I had a lot of horse. For seven-eighths, a lot of these horses haven’t gone that far. They put up pretty solid fractions, and I had quite a bit of horse the whole way. It set up perfect. They were kind of spread out four-wide the whole way, so I was able to kind of tuck in there and come out accordingly and he did the rest.
Trainer William E. Morey: “My owner, Gerry Sandin, was a big part of it. He’s a good friend of mine. We played Little League baseball together 30 years ago, and this was the first horse we ever bought. So I’m really happy for him, mostly. He was a big part of picking this race and pointing for it and the horse did the race.” What do you do now? “I’ll talk to Jerry (laughs) and figure it out. But he’s a nice colt. We think he’ll go a little farther, too. We think he’ll go a mile – I don’t know how much farther. We’ve always thought seven, eight furlongs.” Haven’t looked ahead. “We were dead-aim on this race, and I’m going to have to talk to my Little League baseball partner and see what we’re going to do.” “We’ve always liked the colt. He trains great. He’s had slightly troubled trips in his first two outs.”
Surprised he won? “I bet a few bucks on him.” Joe Rocco, jockey for runner-up Medicine Tail: “My horse has a lot of natural speed. Today he broke really sharp. He doesn’t necessarily need the lead. He’s just fast horse. Today I just wanted a good break and get some good position. I was hoping the speed would run away from me, so I could settle off of them. He’s so fast he just broke and was there. They pushed him in front along and he fought really hard today. Each time this horse runs he gets stronger, better, faster and smarter. Hopefully he keeps that progression and keeps moving forward.”