New Zealand-bred Hoofit held off Aikenite by a desperate nose to score an 11-1 upset in the $175,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (gr. III) (VIDEO) Oct. 7 on opening day at Keeneland.
With Edgar Prado aboard for Graham Motion, Hoofit came from off the pace, cut the corner perfectly while hugging the rail, and took over from favored Flashpoint
in mid-stretch. He had to fight off Aikenite, who was rallying from the outside under John Velazquez, and did so by the narrowest of margins while head-bobbing to the wire.
Making only his second start in the United States, Hoofit is owned by Mrs. S. K. Johnston Jr. By Mossman, out of the Danehill mare Chuckle, the 4-year-old gelding was bred by Ra and Je Ferguson Partnership Syndicate.
Hoofit made his U. S. debut Sept. 2 at Presque Isle Downs, winning a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race by 3 1/4 rallying lengths. That was hit first try since January when he made his final start in New Zealand.
The Phoenix set up perfectly for Hoofit, as Flashpoint and Sterling Outlook
dueled through opening fractions of :22.10 and :45.15. Prado kept Hoofit patiently along the rail the whole time until a path opened in upper stretch. Once he made the lead, it wasn’t long before Aikentite joined him at the front and they battled the rest of the way to the wire.
Hoofit completed six furlongs on the Polytrack in 1:09.27. Aikenite, a two-time winner at Keeneland, finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place Hamazing Destiny
"The horse ran real well," Prado said. "(Motion) told me this morning that the horse ran excellent at Presque Isle and he told me to ride him with a lot of confidence. And you see the results today.”
Hoofit won for the fourth time in 18 lifetime starts and bagged his first graded stakes victory. He has now earned $182,721.
“He was just so impressive that night at Presque Isle," Motion said. "I kept looking at the race and thinking how easily he did it. I said to Edgar this morning, ‘You’ve gotta watch this video because it has to be seen to be believed.’
The winner paid $25.60, $10, and $5.20. The exacta (4-6) returned $85.60 and the trifecta (4-6-3) was worth $481.60.