Tenacious Bango staves off Mucho in Kelly’s Landing battle to the wire at Churchill Downs

June 25, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Tamaroak Partners LLC’s 4-year-old homebred colt Bango tracked pacesetter Strike Power, took the lead from that rival at the top of the stretch and then held off a determined late run from Mucho to win Friday’s 11th running of the $107,025 Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs by a nose. Last year’s Blue Grass (GII) winner Art Collector, the 6-5 favorite who made his first start of the year, finished a non-threatening sixth.

Trained by Greg Foley and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Bango ran seven furlongs over a fast track in 1:21.25 to collect his second stakes win of the meet. Previously, heheld off fellow Kelly’s Landing rival Long Range Toddy to win the $150,000 Aristides (Listed) by a half-length on May 29.

The triumph was worth $65,640 and boosted Bango’s bankroll to $459,197 with a record of 18-7-1-1. Six of his victories have come in nine starts at Churchill Downs.

“This is why we get up early in the morning and do our job,” Foley said. “It makes it all worth it when horses like this run as well as they do. Bango loves Churchill Downs. He’s a neat little horse and Tyler gave him a great ride.”

Strike Power led the field of nine older horses through early splits of :22.63 and :45.32 with Bango rating comfortably in third from the outside. Around the turn, Bangoranged into contention and grabbed a slight lead from the early leader with a furlong to run. The winner put away Strike Power at the sixteenth pole but a fierce late run by Mucho triggered a photo finish at the wire.

“There was a little bit of speed to our inside so I just let him get settled down the backside,” Gaffalione said. “We got into a great position and I wanted to make sure I got the jump on the closers. He held on well and ran a big race.”

Bango is a son of Congrats out of the Smart Strike mare Josaka and was bred in Kentucky by her owners Fred and Debbie Schwartz who campaign under the nom de course Tamaroak. 

Bango returned $15, $7.40 and $4.60 as the 6-1 fourth betting choice. Mucho, at odds of 19-1 under Gabriel Saez, returned $14.60 and $7.20 and finished two lengths in front of Strike Power who paid $3.60 to show under Ricardo Santana Jr. as the 4-1 third choice.

Aloha West, the 3-1 second betting choice, was fourth and was followed byHome Base, Art Collector, Bourbon CallingLong Range Toddy and Relentless Dancer

The Kelly’s Landing honors the Summerplace Farm runner who earned $1,853,831 from a record of 10-3-2 in 27 starts for trainer Eddie Kenneally between 2004-09. The gelding won the six-furlong Aristides Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs in 2005 by stopping the teletimer in a track record 1:07.55 (since eclipsed). His biggest victory came in the 2007 Dubai Golden Saheen at Nad Al Sheba in the United Arab Emirates. Kelly’s Landing also won the 2006 Phoenix (GIII) at Keeneland and 2007 Mr. Prospector Handicap (GIII) at Gulfstream Park.

KELLY’S LANDING QUOTES

Tyler Gaffalione, jockey of BANGO (winner): “There was a little bit of speed to our inside so I just let him get settled down the backside. We got into a great position and I wanted to make sure I got the jump on the closers. He held on well and ran a big race.”

Greg Foley, trainer of BANGO (winner): “It’s been a great day for our barn and our owners. This is why we get up early in the morning and do our job. It makes it all worth it when horses like this run as well as they do. Bango loves Churchill Downs. He’s a neat little horse and Tyler gave him a great ride.”

Churchill Downs Press Release

Photo: Bango (Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

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