Having just missed last time out when they moved too soon, Robby Albarado and 17-1 shot America Alive timed timed their move perfectly Saturday, taking the $470,400 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) by 1 3/4 length at Churchill Downs.
Beaten a head in the Mervin Muniz Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds March 19 after taking the lead in the stretch, America Alive was last for three-quarters of mile Saturday but made a nice move down the lawn in the Woodford Reserve to win the 9-furlong race in 1:47.34. America Alive won his first graded stakes race.
The 4-year-old son of American Chance obviously liked the Churchill grass course. He ran on it once before, beaten a nose in the Commonwealth Turf last fall.
Place Cowboy made the lead in the race as Quest Star and Sweet Return were content to sit in second and third. They passed the quarter in :23.99 and the half in :47.74. As the went six furlongs in 1:11.22, favored Perfect Drift had to check and lost all chance.
Quest Star took the lead as the field cornered for home, but Albarado had America Alive in a full drive and he swept by to get the win. Meteor Storm, far back in the field for the opening mile, also ran late and got second, with Quest Star holding on for third.
The winner is a homebred for Mill House, the racing and breeding operation of James Cox Brady and his family. He is out of the Alydar mare Alive With Hope.
The win was the sixth in 14 starts for America Alive, who is trained by Neil Howard. The victory, worth $291,648, more than doubled the bay colt's earnings to $553,589.
America Alive paid $37.60, $13.80, and $7.60. Grade I winner Meteor Storm, ridden by Corey Nakatani had to swing extremely wide for the stretch run and returned $5.40 and $5. Quest Star, with Edgar Prado aboard, paid $12.60.
Sweet Return, G P Fleet, Mustanfar, Place Cowboy, Senor Swinger, Perfect Drift and A to the Z completed the order.