Dr. Kashnikow unleashed a furious stretch run to nip 53-1 longshot Foster's Landing by a nose at the wire in the $175,750-River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) on a yielding turf at Churchill Downs Sunday.
Erdenheim Farm's 5-year-old grey El Gran Senor gelding won the River City for the second straight year, but his 1 1/2-length triumph last year – his last victory – came more easily than this one.
The final time for the 1 1/8 mile was 1:51.44.
With Robbie Albarado riding, Dr. Kashnikow was sixth in mid-stretch and had a great deal of ground to make up to catch Foster's Landing, who was battling Brazilian Roxinho for command.
But the Canadian bred, winless in seven races this year for trainer Dr. John Fisher, found another gear to get to the wire first on a head bob over unlucky Foster's Landing, with John McKee aboard.
Foster's Landing prompted the pace of Modigliani through fractions of :23.73, :47.66, 1:12.78 and 1:38.54. Foster's Landing, the longest price in the field of 11 at 53-1, faded to fourth on the turn, but showed his resolve late.
As the field approached the top of the stretch, Gretchen's Star, who slipped through on the inside, took a brief lead before Roxinho joined the fray and took the advantage at the eighth pole. Meanwhile, Dr. Kashnikow rallied on the outside and Foster's Landing, who gave way in midstretch, battled back in between horses to just miss in the battle to the wire.
"He's a great horse but timing is everything with him," said Fisher of Dr. Kashnikow. "He has a two-furlong run and he doesn't like soft turf. Although the track wasn't to his liking Robby knew exactly what to do with him. You have to sit and be patient and do his thing. You look at his races this year and you see that he just hasn't had any luck."
Moon Solitaire, the 7-5 favorite with Pat Day in the irons, made a move on the far turn but faded and finished 10th.
Dr. Kashnikow won for the second time in as many tries on the Churchill grass, and for the fourth time in 10 outings at the 1 1/8-mile distance. Overall, he has won seven of 18 starts with two seconds and two thirds. He has career earnings of more than $550,000.
Sent off at 3-1 in the field of 11, the winner paid $8.60, $5.40 and $3.60. Foster's Landing returned $35 and $15.20. Roxinho paid $7. The $2 exacta was $348.20.