Tom R. Durant's Lunar Bounty dueled with Binyamin and 4-5 favorite Storm Passage through the opening half-mile before pulling clear to a 2 1/2-length victory in the $133,750 Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. II) on Sunday at Churchill Downs. After drilling the first four furlongs in :44.42, Lunar Bounty completed the six furlongs in 1:09.90 on a fast track under Frank Lovato Jr. The winning time eclipsed the former stakes record of 1:09.92 set by Favorite Trick in 1997.
"Once he kind of got his head in front and alone he was kind of looking around a bit," Lovato said. "I think I had more left if the challenge came. If the challenge had come there was a little bit more there. But, realistically, it's only his second start and I'm sure he'll be able to run much further distances later on in his career."
Binyamin finished second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Storm Passage. Mannymissedagain and Still Be Smokin' completed the order of finish.
With the victory, Florida-bred Lunar Bounty (Migrating Moon--So Easily, by Superbity) remains undefeated, having entered the Bashford Manor following a 2 1/2-length maiden win at Arlington Park in his racing debut. The Ronny Werner trainee earned $82,925 for the win. Lunar Bounty sold for $60,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sale in March and has now earned just under $100,000. The 2-year-old colt was bred by Ocala Stud Farm, J. Michael O'Farrell Jr., E. Wiest, and the Robert Candow Trust.
"He broke a little sharper today," said Werner. "In his first race he seemed to have a little trouble getting hold of the track and didn't get away as good over at Arlington. He's been training a lot sharper since that race and he left there a lot sharper, his feet underneath him. Frankie did a great job of getting him to relax up there on the front end and we ended up holding them off."
Lunar Bounty returned $7, $3.80, and $2.10. Binyamin paid $3.40 and $2.10. Storm Passage was worth $2.10 to show. The winning exacta combination returned $17.40. (Chart, Equibase