Stonestreet Stables’ Kantharos remained undefeated in three career starts after the 2-year-old son of Lion Heart blew away three other 2-year-olds in a daylight victory in the Aug. 16 Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO).
Sent off at 1-9 odds under jockey Garrett Gomez, replacing the injured Robby Albarado for trainer Steve Asmussen, Kantharos bumped with another horse at the start and then was set just off the early lead of Blue Right By and Bail Out the Cat. By the time the four-horse field hit the turn, Blue Right By and Kantharos blew right by Blue Right By and engaged in a brief early stretch duel. But it wasn’t long before Kantharos lived up to his odds and drew away to win by 7 1/4 lengths in a hand ride.
The winner completed the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.63 and returned $2.30 and $2.10. Bail Out the Cat was worth $2.30, and there was no show wagering. The top two combined for a $3.40 exacta payoff. It was 11 3/4 lengths back to Manchurian High, with Blue Right By completing the order of finish. Sovereign Default, coupled in the entries with Bail Out the Cat, was scratched as was Wetzel.
Kantharos won his debut at Churchill Downs May 13 in an 11 3/4-length romp on a sloppy track. In his next outing, Kantharos bobbled at the start but recovered for a 9 1/2-length victory in the July 3 Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill.
The $90,000 winner’s purse from the Special boosted the colt’s earnings to $185,213.
Bred in Kentucky by Hedberg Hall Inc., Kantharos was purchased by Nick Salusto, agent for Pegasus Holding Group, for $80,000 from the Indian Creek Farm consignment to the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale. Pinhooked by Eddie Woods, agent, into the 2010 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s March sale of 2-year-olds in training, the colt was purchased by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables for $250,000.
"You like a horse a lot, and like how he’s doing, but it’s the variables you have no control over," Asmussen said following the race.
"Garrett said it took him awhile to get into it. He thought he (Kantharos) was cautious going over the track when he was warming up. He said that during first 50 yards he wasn’t on the bridle much at all, but after he went a little ways he got into himself. I thought that he came into the stretch well. He hesitated a little bit when he first left (Bail Out the Cat), but late he really looked good and smooth and like he’ll go further, which is what everybody wants to know right now. What he’s done at these sprint distances is very impressive and brilliant, but we want to be greedy and get a little bit more."
"I’ve watched both of my colt’s races and in one race he was actually behind horses for a ways, so I just let him get up on his feet, let him build, and let him show me the way," Gomez said of his inaugural ride aboard the winner. "I let him tell me what to do and at what time. If you watch his first two races, this is probably an identical re-run of both. I just tried to sit up there, be the best passenger, and stay out of his way to let him do his job. He seemed like he handled the mud OK, and he ran fast enough. He’s a nice colt and I’d like to get on him again."
"You know a very nice horse beat us," said Rick Violette, trainer of Bail Out the Cat. "We were second in a grade II. He at least confirmed that he is a pretty nice horse. We will let him cool out now and see. There are a lot of options, but we’ll get him home make sure he is all right, and then come up with a game-plan."