The 6-year-old Distorted Humor gelding stalked a fast pace on the outside for Eddie Castro, then finished best of all when set down in the lane between Sgt. Bert on the inside and the late arriving Congo King on the extreme outside. Congo King, ridden by Julien Leparoux, kept battling to the finish in the 5 1/2-furlong event. But he was outlasted by The Nth Degree, who picked up the first graded stakes win of his career for trainer Eduardo Caramori.
“I waited for a hole to open in the stretch and (Congo King) got through faster than me,” said Castro. “Then he (The Nth Degree) came on.”
This was Caramori's first starter at the Keeneland spring stand. Caramori said he considered scratching The Nth Degree because of the condition of the turf after heavy rains the day before. But with Winkler already on hand from Colorado for the race, he decided to run.
Congo King finished second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Sgt. Bert, who tired late under Rafael Bejarano. In Summation, the 11-10 favorite in the field of eight, led briefly mid-stretch for jockey Garrett Gomez but could not hold on as the first three surged by leaving the eighth pole. The final time on a turf course listed as good was 1:03 4/5.
Second choice Lifestyle set a wicked pace of :22 and :45 2/5 after Cognac Kisses led briefly at the start, but neither was involved at the finish.
The Nth Degree, sent off at odds of 12-1, had twice been beaten by Sgt. Bert, including a 5 1/2-furlong stakes on the Keeneland grass in October.
Coming off a third-place finish in the Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs March 17, The Nth Degree won Sunday for the first time since taking an allowance race at Mountaineer Park July 29. The chestnut had lost four in a row. He earned $68,324 for his fifth win in 27 starts, boosting his total to $212,304 while improving his turf record to 3-1-3 in 12 outings.
The Nth Degree is out of the Dixieland Band mare Coastal Wave.
Sent off as the fifth choice, he paid $26.80, $10 and $6.40. Congo King provided a strong effort in his second start on the grass for trainer Patrick Biancone, returning $14.80 and $10.40 while rounding out a $465.40 exacta. Sgt. Bert was $4.60 to show.
It was a half-length to In Summation in fourth. The favorite was followed by Shark, Lifestyle, Cognac Kisses and Hold the Salt.