For the second consecutive year, Kim Loves Bucky has won the Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland. The 6-year-old gelding completed the 1 1/2-mile turf distance in 2:29.39, with Man From Wicklow a half-length back in second, and Williams News a nose behind for third.
Under jockey Kent Desormeaux, Kim Loves Bucky remained in hand, sitting in fourth, while tracking the early leaders three and four wide. Desormeaux and Kim Loves Bucky began advancing in the early stretch then closed fast and hard on the leaders, outfinishing favored Man From Wicklow, who got the lead in the lane.
"It seems to me like he is better with a target so I just let him lope along," said Desormeaux. "I knew I could catch the leader but when we got to the front, I was hoping nobody else was coming."
Entering the gate at 11-1, Kim Loves Bucky returned $25.80, $8.80, and $6.40. Man From Wicklow, the 7-5 choice in the 10-horse field with Jerry Bailey aboard, returned $3.20 and $2.60. Williams News, with jockey Brice Blance, paid $9.20. The $2 exacta of Kim Loves Bucky and Man From Wicklow returned $84.20.
John Glenney conditions the homebred Kim Loves Bucky for his wife Kim. The son of Green Dancer was produced from the Great Above mare Moondust Mink.
"I've been worried all spring that he might be a little short but between Bucky and Kent, they got the job done," Glenney said. "He ran huge. When we worked him last week, it gave Kent and I a lot of confidence. Kent rode a great race and Bucky, well, he's his own horse."
The 2003 Elkhorn was the first win for Kim Loves Bucky since his two-length win in the same contest last year and his first start since finishing sixth in last October's Sycamore Breeders' Cup Handicap, also at Keeneland. With his second Elkhorn victory, Kim Loves Bucky improved his record to 23-5-2-1. The winner's share of $93,000 increased his bankroll to $402,759.