LEXINGTON, Ky.—Peachtree Stable’s Tawny Port took charge from Major General inside the sixteenth pole and pulled clear to post a 1-length victory in the 40th running of the $400,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3) for 3- year-olds.
Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, Tawny Port completed the mile and a sixteenth on the fast main track in 1:45.24. It is the second victory in the race for Cox and Geroux, who teamed to win the 2019 running with Owendale.
With the victory, Tawny Port added 20 points to his Road to the Kentucky Derby total to boost his total to 60, good for 11thplace and a spot in the starting gate that is limited to the top 20-point earners that pass the entry box on May 2.
Major General picked up 8 points for finishing second to boost his total to 18 points, good for 27th. In Due Time added 4 points for third to bring his total to 24 points, good for 22nd. Ethereal Road added 2 points for finishing fourth to bring his total to 22 points, good for 23rd.
Major General led the field of 11 through fractions of :23.85, :48.01 and 1:12.45 while being tracked by Strava and Dash Attack with Tawny Port racing in midpack.
Major General maintained the lead into the stretch, but Geroux had Tawny Port in the clear in the middle of the track and gradually wore down the leader.
A Keeneland sales graduate, Tawny Port is a Kentucky-bred son of Pioneerof the Nile out of the Macho Uno mare Livi Makenzie. In posting his first graded stakes victory, Tawny Port improved his record to 5-3-1-0 and boosted his earnings to $427,000 with Saturday’s $229,400 check.
Tawny Port returned $12.20, $6.40 and $3.80. Major General, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., returned $7.60 and $4.80 and finished 1 1⁄2 lengths ahead of favored In Due Time, who paid $2.80 to show under Paco Lopez.
It was another length back to Ethereal Road with Strava, Dash Attack, Midnight Chrome, Howling Time, Call Me Midnight, Skate to Heaven and We All See It following in order.
Quotes from the $400,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3)
Florent Geroux (winning rider)
“He needed the race. (The Feb. 19 Risen Star-G2 at Fair Grounds) was his only (previous) start on the dirt (and the race) was definitely the key (prep for) the Kentucky Derby (G1). It looked like every horse who ran in there all came back and ran some very strong races, so we were hoping to do the same thing. (Tawny Port did) that today, in a very powerful way at the high end on the dirt. Looks like the distance should be no problem, and I hope the connections will take a swing at (the Derby).”
Brad Cox (winning trainer)
“He responded today. There was a little bit of a question mark with how well he would handle the dirt. He ran well at the Fair Grounds. Florent came back and had positive comments after that race, and I thought, ‘Well, you know, right now, maybe you try to go in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3 on April 2 at Turfway Park.).’ So that’s what we did, and he ran a real respectable race. Then we found ourselves nominated to this race and it worked out today.”
On whether Tawny Port will go to the Kentucky Derby (G1)
“We’ll see how he comes out of (today’s race). I’d like to congratulate (owners) John and Elizabeth Fort (of Peachtree Stable). This was John’s idea, to come back in two weeks immediately after the Jeff Ruby. He said, ‘We need to look at this race,’ and I said, ‘Well, I nominated him.’ We watched him and he seemed to have a great energy level and his weight’s great. He’s a good-looking colt – really good-looking. (John Fort) picked him out.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. (rider of runner-up Major General)
“He ran really good. He broke a little better today. He’s still learning. In the stretch, he was looking a little bit – waiting for some company. He put me right there without using too much, so I took it and went from there. There were some slow fractions so I had a good chance. When I asked him to go, he gave me a great effort.”
Kelly Breen (trainer of third-place finisher In Due Time)
“I still think he is a top horse. He was extremely sharp coming into the race. We thought he would be a little closer (to the pace) but (jockey) Paco (Lopez) had to use him a little early in the race. We will regroup and see what (the owners) say (about pointing to the Kentucky Derby).”
Keeneland Press Release
Photo: Tawny Port (Coady Photography)