Leelanau tracked a fast pace and then accelerated through the stretch to win Monday's $162,600 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) by 4 1/2 lengths in track-record time at Churchill Downs. Under Jon Court, Leelanau completed the 5 1/2 furlongs in a quick 1:03.11 on a fast track, giving Court his fourth win on the card. Yes It's True held the previous record, which he set by winning the 1998 renewal of the race in 1:03.61.
Leelanau is the second stakes-winning, track-record setter from Carson City's current crop of 2-year-olds, joining Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes winner City Street. Both Leelanau and City Street own or co-own track records at Churchill, where City Street raced to a dead heat with Open Story in the Three Chimneys Juvenile, both getting the five furlongs in course-record time of :57.28. City Street also equaled the Keeneland track record for 4 1/2 furlongs (:51.04) while earning his maiden win. In Monday's win, Leelanau bettered City Street and Open Story's five-furlong record, running the five panels in :56.87 en route to his win.
Gygistar set fast fractions (:21.63 and :44.99) while leading Open Story and Leelanau through the opening half-mile. Leelanau then raced three-wide into the stretch and drew away to the impressive win.
"He seemed to be comfortable when he settled back off the pace," said Court. "He got some dirt in his face today, but that didn't seem to bother him. He sat and made his run around the turn and kicked through the stretch. It's been a great day. When Pat Day leaves someone has to fill his boots."
Gygistar finished second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Lakeside Cup. 8-5 favorite Open Story, Handsome Hunk, and Mr. Mythic completed the order of finish.
Iron Horse Racing's Leelanau remained undefeated while stretching out from a 1 1/2-length win over Handsome Hunk in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race earlier this month at Churchill. The Steven Morguelan trainee earned $100,812 for the win. Leelanau is out of the Kris S. mare Kris's Intention and was bred in Kentucky by Kidder, Griggs, and Mamakos.
"It's nice to see him rate like this," said Morguelan. "When 2-year-old winners start to congregate not all the horses can run on the lead like they're used to doing. It just takes racing to find out what they're going to be like. Time will tell. We'll probably put him in the Bashford Manor as long as he comes out of this race all right."
Leelanau returned $5.40, $3.60, and $3.40. Gygistar returned $4.80 and $4.60 and completed the $20.20 exacta. Lakeside Cup was worth $5.40 to show. (Chart, Equibase