Janis R. Whitman's homebred Fiscally Speaking sprung a 47-1 upset in the $115,300 Aegon Turf Sprint (gr. IIIT) after surging past 2001 winner Morluc in the final strides at Churchill Downs Friday.
The 4-year-old gelded son of Belong to Me completed the five furlong Aegon in a stakes-record :56.01.
Fiscally Speaking angled in from his outside post down the backstretch and was three-wide off the hedge in fifth at the top of the stretch. Pacesetters Bop and Mighty Beau battled through fractions of :21.67 and :44.22 and took the field inside the eighth pole before being overtook by Morluc, a stablemate of Mighty Beau's for trainer Randy Morse.
Morluc appeared clear to the wire but rallying down the center of the course came Fiscally Speaking and jockey Jon Court who just got up in the final strides to take the photo by a head for trainer Carl Nafzger. Testify, the 2002 Aegon winner, finished another length back in third.
"He was the bomb," exclaimed Court. "Our strategy was to let the predominant speed go ahead and set the pace and we'd stay about three lengths off in stalking range. From there, we'd try to run them down. They carried it down to the wire, though.
"I know this horse pretty well and I think he likes me," Court added. He's tough and seems to run well under me ... we're now two for three together."
Fiscally Speaking was making his second career stakes start after finishing sixth in the Shakertown Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland April 12 last time out. He has now won four of 11 career starts with three second and one third. The $71,486 winner's share of the purse boosts Fiscally Speaking's career earnings to over $173,000.
"He never relaxed enough to run a route of ground," Nafzger said. "(Assistant trainer) Ian (Wilkes) and I decided to sprint him. Today in the paddock, I told Jon to let him settle. I said, 'He'll understand what he's doing more (than last race).' This is a tremendous group of really nice colts."
Bop, the 5-2 favorite, finished eighth in the 11-horse field.
"We broke very well and when I asked him he responded as long as he could, but he tired," said Patrick Valenzuela.
Shane Sellers, aboard Morluc, was encouraged.
"This was a big, big race for him," Sellers said. "Unfortunately, he got a little tired in the end. It was a big and important race for such a long layoff. I thought I had 'em in the end, but here comes a 50-to-1 shot. Hopefully, he'll bounce back well off of this race...he's
got a long year ahead of him."
Backers of Fiscally Speaking were rewarded with a $96.80, $33.20 and $12.20 payout for $2. Morluc returned $6 and $3.80. Testify, who rallied seven wide in the stretch with Robby Albarado aboard, showed for $3.80. The $2 exacta paid $519 and the $2 trifecta brought back $3,804.50.