Newsdad, switching from turf to Polytrack and shortening up for the closing day $150,000 Fayette Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, swept to a two-length victory under meet-leading rider Julien Leparoux Oct. 27 (VIDEO).
Last of 10 early after being slow into stride, Newsdad inhaled his rivals after angling six paths wide for the drive, soaring past Take Charge Indy and 3-2 favorite Salto with a sixteenth of a mile to run. Newsdad drew off quickly to win at odds of 8-1 while timed in 1:48.74 for 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack.
Leparoux wrapped up his ninth title as leading rider at Keeneland earlier in the short fall meet and recorded his 300th victory at the track Oct. 24. He guided James Karp's homebred Newsdad, a 4-year-old by Arch out of the unraced Pulpit mare Storm Tracer, to victory for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
Newsdad established Keeneland's Polytrack record for 1 1/4 miles (2:00.61) winning a first-level allowance race Oct. 19, 2011. The dark bay or brown colt captured the Pan American Stakes (gr. IIT) on turf against three opponents at Gulfstream Park in March for his first stakes victory.
Mott previously saddled Go Between to win the Fayette in 2007.
Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Take Charge Indy, making his first start since the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) May 5, took the early lead in the Fayette under Calvin Borel. Take Charge Indy controlled the pace for a half-mile by one length over 3-2 pick Salto while clipping off an opening quarter mile in :24.25 and the half in :47.98. Newsdad, after a slow start, was near the rear.
"It was not our game planning going out there to be that far back, to be honest with you," said Kenny McCarthy, assistant to Mott. "He's got a big cruising speed so we thought he'd be a little closer. Leaving the gate, he looked like he stumbled just slightly and then after that, you have to leave it up to your jockey."
Take Charge Indy came under increased pressure from the Irish-bred Salto after six furlongs in 1:11.74 but battled on from the inside before weakening a bit mid-stretch. Salto got a narrow advantage past the furlong mark but also tired as Newsdad stormed ahead in deep stretch.
The stalking Nikki's Sandcastle split horses for Leandro Goncalves and finished well to get the runner-up spot over Take Charge Indy by half a length. Salto was another half-length farther back in fourth. He was followed by Middie, Photo Shoot, Guys Reward, Eye of the Leopard , Golden Yank, and Twinspired.
Newsdad, who improved his record to 5-2-3 in 20 lifetime starts, has now banked $483,640. He was getting a cutback in distance coming off a fifth-place showing in the Bowling Green Stakes (gr. IIT) at 1 1/4 miles on a good Belmont Park inner turf course Sept. 8. He was fourth in both the Sword Dancer (gr. IT) at 12 furlongs at Saratoga Race Course and Belmont's 11-furlong Man o' War (gr. IT) before that.
Leparoux said he was happy with Newsdad's placement toward the rear of the pack.
"That was a good place for us," he said. "Usually, he runs 1 1/2-mile races where they go a lot slower, so he's a little bit more forward. Today he was in the back, happy. On the backside, he started picking it up and at the three-quarter pole I knew I had a lot of horse. He came running."
Carrying top weight of 123 pounds, Newsdad paid $19, $9, and $5.20 as the fourth choice in the field. Nikki's Sandcastle, posting his third consecutive stakes runner-up finish for trainer David Kassen, returned $8.20 and $5.40 while completing a $185.20 exacta. Take Charge Indy, making a good return from surgery to remove a bone chip from his left front ankle, paid $4.80 to show.
"For his first start back after the Derby he was very impressive," Borel said of Take Charge Indy. "For him to come back like this; he's a great horse and he showed it today. I was pressed almost the whole way and only got beat, like, two lengths, so I was very impressed with the race."
Kentucky racing immediately switches to Churchill Downs, which opens Oct. 28 with its "Stars of Tomorrow" program of juvenile races.