Summerplace Farm's homebred Kelly's Landing set a six-furlong track record at Churchill Downs while winning Saturday's $162,450 Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) in his stakes debut.
Ridden for the first time by Gary Stevens, Kelly's Landing found plenty of room along the inside at the head of the stretch and drove to a 1 3/4-length win over 6-5 favorite Battle Won in a time of 1:07.59. The 4-year-old gelded son of Patton
went off at odds of better than 11-1 in the field of six.
Kelly's Landing broke the track record established by Breeders' Cup champion Kona Gold of 1:07.77 in winning the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) in 2000. The victory was the third in seven starts this season for Kelly's Landing.
Jet Prospector, who set a hot pace – :21 and :43 4/5 – while racing off the rail for Robby Albarado, was third, three lengths behind the winner.
Breaking from the inside post, Kelly's Landing was never far off the lead, getting a dream trip when advancing to the stretch where he blasted through along the inside. He drew clear after dueling with Battle Won in mid-stretch and continued to hold off the challenger under strong left-handed urging from Stevens.
"He's the kind of horse that might step up and improve again," said Stevens. "He broke real relaxed and was able to stay in striking distance without me using him. He just took me around the turn at his will."
Battle Won, ridden by Mike Smith, was coming off a 3 1/2-length win in the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) May 7.
Smith, who had Battle Won on the outside of pacesetter Jet Prospector when Stevens moved to the rail with Kelly's Landing, said the favorite could not respond to the winner's move.
"My horse didn't see him until it was too late," said Smith. "Sometimes horses like to fight other ones. Maybe if we could have come up together, we could have went with him."
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Kelly's Landing earned $100,719 for his fifth win in nine career starts for owner John Lally and has now banked $220,560 in his career. The dark bay won a 6 1/2-furlong optional allowance race at Churchill in his last start May 29 in an excellent time of 1:15 2/5.
He paid $25.80, $6.40 and $4.60 Saturday. Battle Won ($3, $2.80) completed a $71.60 exacta. Jet Prospector was $3.20 to show.
Then came the 2-1 second choice Gators N Bears, Level Playingfield and Bwana Charlie.