HENDERSON, KY— After prompting the pace to keep things honest in the early going, Top Recruit showed how genuine his talent is as he dug in to turn back 6-5 favorite Curly Jack during a protracted stretch duel and capture the 7th running of the $125,000 Runhappy Ellis Park Juvenile by a head on Aug. 14.
The seven-furlong Ellis Park Juvenile was one of five stakes on the Sunday card at the Pea Patch headlined by the $200,000 Runhappy Ellis Park Derby.
Trained and co-owned by Mike Maker along with owners Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher, and Three Diamonds Farm, Top Recruit was making his third career start and showed massive improvement from his first try against stakes company. After breaking his maiden at first asking at Churchill Downs on June 9, the son of Midshipman finished a well-beaten third as the favorite in the $100,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes at Prairie Meadows on July 9.
As he began his run on Sunday from the outside post 6 under jockey Gerardo Corrales, Top Recruit kept himself in the mix from the start during his latest step up in company. As Eli’s Promise raced up along the inside to cover the opening quarter mile in 22.13, Top Recruit rated three-wide in second just a head behind the leader.
The gray colt then ranged up to stick a head in front of Frosted Departure as they reached the half in 45.24 and after putting that challenger away around the far turn, he found himself engaged in a fresh battle with Curly Jack sweeping up on the outside.
Curly Jack looked poised to go by in midstretch but Top Recruit, sent off at 6-1 odds, would not be denied, fighting on along the rail to get up at the wire and stop the teletimer in 1:24.40 over a track rated fast.
“He was actually an absolutely spectacular physical and we sold him as a July yearling to Wavertree,” said Carrie Brogden of Machmer Hall, which sold Top Recruit for $120,000 at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Select Yearling Sale. “When he broke his maiden, I was just blown away. He is just an Adonis of a horse.
“I think he was a little bit green coming down the stretch and once he switched his leads, that heart kicked in and he fought all the way to the wire. Hopefully he has a spectacular future.”
The top two were 14 ¾ lengths clear of Roman Giant back in third with Frosted Departure coming home fourth in the six-horse field.
Bred in Kentucky by Dunwoody Farm out of the Afleet Alex mare Oh So Bella, Top Recruit has now won two of three career starts with earnings of $155,840.
Ellis Park Press Release
Main photo: Top Recruit gritty in Ellis Park Juvenile victory (Coady Photography)