Starspangled Gator set a controlled pace and drew off late to give Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winning jockey Calvin Borel his sixth victory on the program Thursday in Churchill Downs’ $56,010 featured race.
Leading spring meet rider Julien Leparoux captured the other three races on Churchill Downs' Thursday card, winning the third, fourth and ninth races.
Borel, who captured his first Derby victory this spring aboard Street Sense, also won the first (Sly, $11.40), second (Boogie Woogie Man, $12.20), fifth (Classic Robbery, $29.20), sixth (Honor Guard, $19.40) and seventh (Elite Squadron, $5.80) races earlier on Thursday’s nine-race card. It was the ninth time in track history that a single rider captured six wins in a day, and Borel became the sixth jockey to do it. He had a total of eight mounts on the card.
“It was an awesome day,” said Borel following the final race of the day. “They all run good and all run true to form. It looked like they all had a little shot. This filly here (Butane, who finished sixth in the 9th race) kind of disappointed me. She didn’t handle (the sloppy track), but she was the only one all day that didn’t handle the mud. But all of the others did and I thank my agent (Jerry Hissam) for doing a good job. I’m just happy to be riding here and happy to get up tomorrow morning and go to work and try to move six more.”
On June 27, Leparoux also won six on the day at Churchill Downs, becoming the fifth rider to do so.
In the featured 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance, Janet M. Shulthise’s Starspangled Gator broke well and quickly opened a four-length lead on the four-horse field. He was reined back to early fractions of :24.35 for the quarter mile and :48.70 for the half, maintaining his lead on the far turn as Terrific Storm and Rafael Bejarano drew within striking distance. Starspangled Gator responded to urging and drew clear in the stretch, scoring a two-length victory as the favorite.
The victory was the fifth in 18 lifetime starts for Starspangled Gator. Trained by William G. Gowan, the 4-year-old son of Editor’s Note ran in 1:43.22 over a track rated “sloppy.” The field was reduced to four after three late scratches when weather conditions moved the race off the turf.