Stan Fulton's Fire Slam survived a strong challenge by Unbridled America to win his third straight race in Saturday's $97,500 Don Bernhardt Memorial Stakes at Ellis Park by a head.
A bay son of Grand Slam with jockey Pat Day aboard, Fire Slam went off at 9-10, but wasn't the favorite in the small field, reduced to four after the scratches of Scrimshaw and Founding Chaiman. That honor went to Cat Genius, who set the pace before falling back at 7-10.
The final time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was 1:16 4/5.
The battle between the top two never materialized after Cat Genius broke last, and then was rushed up to the lead by Craig Perret. After carving fractions of :22 4/5 and :45 3/5, Cat Genius had nothing left for the top pair in the stretch, finishing 5 1/4 lengths back in third.
Instead, Fire Slam ranged up four wide while progressing on the leader on the turn, hooked up with Unbridled America a fulrong from home and prevailed with confident hand urging from Day.
Bred in Kentucky by Julie Jones Mogge and sold at Fasig-Tipton in July 2002 for $230,000, Fire Slam has won six of nine in his career with earnings of $652,084.
The winner, trained by David Carroll, paid $3.80, $2.40, and $2.10. Unbridled America, ridden by John McKee, returned $4.20 and $2.10. Cat Genius was $2.10 to show.