FRANKLIN, Ky.— The instructions were simple enough for jockey Joel Rosario.
The Eclipse Award-winning rider was climbing aboard Private Creed for the first time in the fifth running of the $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Sprint at Kentucky Downs Thursday afternoon.
When he met trainer Steve Asmussen in the paddock, Rosario said Asmussen only told him one thing.
“Go win the race,” Rosario said with a smile.
Private Creed, owned by Mike McCarty, ran down the favored Sharp Aza Tack to win the 6 1/2 furlong sprint by three-quarters of a length.
“We were very excited about this opportunity,” Hall of Famer Asmussen said. “Joel gave him a dynamite trip. The horse excelled today and, obviously, a very good finish. We love the outcome.”
Private Creed was making his third career start. He broke his maiden at Ellis Park and headed to Saratoga, where he was third in the Skidmore Stakes on Aug. 19. Both those races were 5 1/2 furlongs.
Asmussen then pointed him to Kentucky Downs and the son of Jimmy Creed answered the call.
“That was fabulous, to win a race of this stature at Kentucky Downs with a long-time owner like Mike McCarty,” Asmussen said. “Very special. This was our target. This was extremely important to us and we’re very proud of this.”
Sharp Aza Tack, trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., was the 2-5 favorite after winning both of his career starts in front-running fashion by a combined 9 1/2 lengths. Both of those races – his maiden at Santa Anita and the Tyro Stakes at Monmouth – were at five furlongs.
Sharp Aza Tack broke alertly but conceded the early lead to 50-1 longshot Revere Note and jockey Rene Diaz. He set the early fractions of 22.13 and 46.54 with Sharp Aza Tack looming boldly right to his outside.
When Revere Note retreated, Sharp Aza Tack took over and Private Creed began his challenge. After racing four wide, he moved to the inside of Sharp Aza Tack, who had drifted in the stretch and the two battled it out to the wire. The final time for Private Creed, who was sent off as the 4-1 second choice, was 1:18.1.
“The one horse (Sharp Aza Tack) had so much speed,” Rosario said. “My horse was comfortable, he was happy where he was. He settled nicely going into the turn. For a second, I didn’t know, as it took him a little time to get going. He just found another gear.”
Private Creed paid $7.58 to win and earned $310,000. Bred in Kentucky by Sierra Farm, Private Creed was a $155,000 purchase at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in Training Sale.
“Bought off Mason Springs (at) Timonium,” Asmussen said. “Just a lovely individual, great mind about him. And he has improved in all three of his races.”
Asmussen put blinkers on the colt for the first time.
“I thought the addition of blinkers moved him up,” he said. “He’s a horse that Keith, my son, normally gets on and has gotten on him here, so it was quite the family win.
Asmussen said the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at 5 1/2 furlongs and $1 million Juvenile Turf at a mile will be considered for Private Creed.
“In every one of his races, he has settled a little bit better,” Asmussen said. “He had a very good finish today. So, taking him a mile is a possibility.”
This was the first trip to Kentucky Downs for owner McCarty.
“I’m really happy about the present,” McCarty said. “And I hope I get happier about the future.”
Accident and jockey Isaiah Wiseman finished third followed by Bourbon Therapy and Gerardo Corrales and Revere Note.
Racing resumes Saturday with a 12-race card featuring six graded-stakes races. First post is 11:30 a.m. Central.
By Tim Wilkin – Kentucky Downs Press Release
Photo: Private Creed wins the Juvenile Sprint (Coady Photography)