Mile specialist Kip Deville, a reformed front-runner who has looked like a different horse since learning to rate for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., outfought even-money choice Showing Up by a long neck to win Friday's $250,000 Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) on the Keeneland grass course.
The 4-year-old Kip Deville posted his third successive graded win in the Maker's Mark, a streak that includes the Frank Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) in his previous start at Santa Anita March 3. With his victory Friday -- his sixth in seven starts at the distance -- the underrated gray son of Kipling could be considered the best turf miler in the nation.
Multiple Grade I winner Showing Up, making his first start since taking the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) Nov. 26 and a winner of seven of nine starts in 2006, probably needed the race and was running at a distance shorter than his best. He also had the worst of the trip, forced to vie on the lead while between horses on the final turn.
Breaking from the far outside, Kip Deville was bumped by Showing Up--just to his inside--at the break, but found a stalking spot while racing four wide. Showing Up, meanwhile, challenged for the early pace under Cornelio Velasquez before settling a length behind Free Thinking, who clipped off fractions of :24 3/5 and :48 3/5. Showing Up inched in front after six furlongs in 1:12 with Kip Deville and Edgar Prado, advancing to challenge while widest of three on the final turn.
In the lane, Kip Deville hooked up on the outside with Showing Up in the middle before the pacesetting Free Thinker dropped back. In an exciting stretch drive, Kip Deville prevailed while all out under strong urging from Prado, who has won the graded stakes at Keeneland the past three days. Prado won three races in a row at Keeneland Friday and has four stakes wins at the week-old meet.
Prado said Dutrow didn’t give him many instructions. “He told me, ‘When the gates open, it’s up to you.’ I was able to settle right behind and bide my time and run down Showing Up at the end.”
Each of the first two finishers Friday carried co-top weight of 123 pounds.
“There was no speed in the race,” said Velasquez. “Everyone wanted to take back and no one went for the lead. (Kip Deville) wouldn’t let up. My horse ran big. He ran his race.”
Purim rallied for third, a half-length behind Showing Up, with Bayeux finishing fourth, another half-length behind.
The final time was 1:35 2/5.
Sent off as the third choice in the field of eight, Kip Deville paid $11, $3.80, and $3.60. Showing Up returned $3.20 and $2.60. Purim, ridden by Jamie Theriot, was $7 to show.
Sky Conqueror, Remarkable News, Free Thinking, and Storm Caller completed the order. Old Dodge scratched.
A one-dimensional speeder for most of his career, the Oklahoma-bred Kip Deville began to turn things around with a stalking victory in the one-mile Bryan Station on the turf at Keeneland last October. He has now won both of his starts on the Keeneland grass. After weakening in the Hollywood Derby to finish 9 1/2 lengths behind Showing Up, Kip Deville won the Sir Beaufort (gr. IIIT) to conclude his 3-year-old campaign. He returned to defeat Bayeux by a neck with a similar assault on the outside in taking the Kilroe.
Kip Deville won for the eighth time in 16 lifetime starts, earning $155,000 Friday to boost his total winnings to $803,642 for a partnership that includes IEAH Stable, Michael A. Iavarone, Dan Borislow, and Andrew Cohen. All but about $40,000 of the colt's total has has come from turf earnings.
Center Hills Farm bred Kip Deville, who is out of Klondike Kaytie, by Encino and sold for $20,000 as a yearling in Texas.