Stony Oak Farm's Elusive Jazz, making his graded stakes debut, rolled to victory with a well-timed ride from Robby Albarado in the $266,500 Phoenix Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Keeneland.
The stalking Elusive Jazz tackled the leaders on the turn, edging up on the outside of three contenders in the six-furlong event, then kicked away to win under moderate urging by Albarado. The time was 1:11 3/5.
Bobby Barnett, who trains the winner, indicated afterward that Elusive Jazz could be headed to TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 29.
"We'll see how he comes out of this race and then decide," Barnett said. "He's been very sharp the last week. The way he was acting in the shedrow this morning, I thought, 'This might be our day.'"
Albarado said Barnett instructed him to cover up on Elusive Jazz.
"Horses have been coming off the pace today, so I was comfortable with my position," Albarado said. "He ran on well down the lane. I was just a passenger."
The 4-year-old Elusive Quality
colt paid $17, $8.20 and $5 as the fifth choice in a field of eight. Outsider Wild Time, ridden by Mark Guidry, closed from the rear of the pack to finish second, returning $19.20 and $9 as part of a $265.80 exacta. Premium Saltine, ridden by Corey Lanerie, was $4.20 to show.
Elusive Jazz earned $165,230 for G. James Phelps' Stony Oak Farm.
Fifteen Rounds was fourth, followed by Level Playingfield. Bwana Charlie, favored at 2-1 in his first start since June 25 for trainer Steve Asmussen, was never a factor.
Danieltown, who was fractious in the gate for Rafael Bejarano, broke sharply to set a solid pace for the opening quarter mile of :21 4/5. Danieltown was able to dictate things until the field rounded the turn, when he was challenged by Premium Saltine, Fifteen Rounds and Elusive Jazz. Premium Saltine had the lead briefly and appeared to be brushed by the winner as Elusive Jazz powered down the stretch.
"At the quarter pole I thought it was our race to lose," Lanerie said. "I guess we were just third best today."
Elusive Jazz, bred in Kentucky by Richard J. Forbush and Richard Lueck, won for the fourth time in 14 career starts with earnings of $306,931. He was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Marfa Stakes at Turfway Park Sept. 24.
Out of the Kentucky Jazz mare Time for Jazz, Elusive Jazz was a $90,000 Keeneland buy in September 2002.