After a great Keeneland meeting which saw rider Flavien Prat finish third in the standings, the 29-year-old Frenchman further justified his decision to move his edge to Kentucky by winning four graded stakes races at Churchill Falls during the Derby weekend.
One day after winning the Eight Belles Stakes presented by TwinSpires (G2) with Matareya and the Modesty Stakes presented by TwinSpires (G3T) with Bleecker Street Prat continued his momentum on May 7 with a victory on board talk about the devil in the Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2T) earlier on the map before guiding longshot stolen base to an upset score in the $500,000 American Turf Stakes presented by BMW (G2T).
“It’s been a great day, really a great weekend,” Prat said. “I hope it stays that way.”
After two unsuccessful attempts on the polytrack chasing Tiz the bomb to Turfway Park, Stolen Base returned to its favorite surface: grass. Equipped with blinkers, which he first wore in a seventh-place finish in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on April 2, the colt finally earned his first bleacher victory for owners Three Diamonds Farm and Deuce Great house.
The colt was on muscle from the moment the gates opened, cutting heels with Holding company in the race around the first corner. After a :23.97 first quarter, Prat managed to put the eager Stolen Base in fifth position behind the horses on the straight. Race leader Chief Dowagiac had slowed the pace considerably at the front, completing the half mile in :49.27 before beginning his retreat as the peloton entered the final corner. Prat and Stolen Base had entered the fray and pounced on the leaders with a four-way move down the stretch. As Stolen Base hit the front, the Californian invader halfway Balnikhov rushed to his outside and stuck a head in front.
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“I didn’t think we were going to wait (Balnikhov),” Prat said. “Manny (Franco) came towards me (with Balnikhov) but my horse seemed to regroup and go away.”
Stolen Base bravely dug inside Balnikhov and cleared this rival, finishing 1 1/4 lengths in front of the wire. Favored Sy dog could only manage third in the first loss of his career.
“They slowed the pace up front and my horse jumped slowly, so we struggled,” Franco de Balnikhov said.
American Turf was Adaay’s second race in North America since joining Phil D’Amato’s stable. “I drove it the way they asked me to gain ground and when you have the chance to run in the middle of the track, where it’s best at the moment. I was following Irad (Ortiz Jr .) first, then I followed Flavien (Prat) but (Stolen Base) never stopped running.”
The 1 1/16 miles was done in a time of 1.44.57 on a firm turf course. Stolen Base paid $13.20 to win from a $2 ticket.
“He’s a tough horse, Stolen Base, he shows up every time,” said trainer Mike Maker. “Last time (in the Jeff Ruby Steaks) he was battling a minor illness, so we just have to strike out that last run.
“We did well, Flavien (Prat) put it in a good position and just felt that if we were good enough there would be no excuses.
Stolen Base Relations celebrate victory in the American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs
A horse who has played on all three surfaces in his career, Maker said the prestigious Caesars Turf Triple Series in New York could be on Stolen Base’s radar. The first race in the $3,000,000 series is the July 9 Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational (G1T) at Belmont Park.
Stolen Base, who became the 25th individual winner of the stakes for his father with the win on American turf, was bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds. He is the fourth foal of the winner indian charlie mare Running Wild, herself a daughter of Race Artist, Grade 3 winner, and half-sister to multi-stakes winner Cherokee Artist, who has won over $900,000, and stakes winner Cherokee Girl. Running Wild has a 2-year-old never raced filly named Racing and a year-old colt named Mad Dash, both by candy tower and gave birth to a filly by Honor AP May 3.
Stolen Base has crossed the sales ring twice, selling for $45,000 to Pura Vida Investments as a juvenile when presented by Ocala Stud at the 2021 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring Sale 2-Year-Olds in Training Before of being bought by trainer Mike Maker of the Bluewater Sales on consignment for $335,000 at Keeneland’s November Breeder Sale last year after finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T).