A 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds, the Transylvania was originally scheduled for the turf but was run on Polytrack due to heavy rains that hit the Lexington area the night before. A field of seven contested the event.
A son of Dynaformer, Boss Lafitte won for the third time in nine starts and earned his first stakes score. Trained by Tom Amoss, the bay colt’s last victory came in allowance competition Jan 26 on a sloppy track at Fair Grounds. He also won on the Fair Grounds turf as a 2-year-old.
Zayat Stables’ Riley Tucker made a determined bid in the final yards but had to settle for second, two lengths ahead of 27-1 Budge Man in third. Even-money favorite Prussian, who made his first start since October, was a neck back in fourth.
After bumping with Barrier Reef and Riley Tucker at the start, Boss Lafitte raced in hand third along the rail during the early going, content to let Prussian show the way. Riley Tucker was pressing the pace.
Under James Lopez, Monticule’s Prussian was going nicely for three-quarters, setting easy fractions of :25.69, :50.90, and 1:14.90. The Danzig colt still had the advantage as they came out of the turn, but along the inside a clear path opened for Boss Lafitte, who was never far behind.
Boss Lafitte struck the front at the top of the lane, while Prussian began to give way. The only challenge in the final sixteenth came from Riley Tucker, who continued to edge closer in the final yards under Edgar Prado. But Albarado urged the dark bay colt to the wire in time.
"He's a nice horse, and I rode him with confidence," said Albarado, who rode for the first time Thursday since guiding Curlin to victory in the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 29. "Tom gave me basic instructions; just get him in a comfortable position. It was real personal for me because he is owned by friends of mine in Louisiana. I'm real excited to win for them at Keeneland."
Boss Lafitte went off at odds of 9-1 and returned $21.20, $6.40, and $5.20. The exacta (2-1) was worth $68, while the trifecta (2-1-6) paid $198.65.
Out of the Lord At War mare War Thief, Boss Lafitte was bred by B.P. Walden, C. Montgomery and Dearborn Stable. He upped his earnings to $158,040. Amoss said he will move back to turf for his next race, although he now has won on three surfaces.
"I think the Crown Royal (American Turf, gr. IIIT, May 2) is a big possibility for us at Churchill Downs on Derby weekend," Amoss said. "We always felt this horse likes grass. Usually form translates from this surface to grass.
"He came up to the race nicely. Obviously, getting through on the rail was a big help. We'll take it."
Free Fighter finished fifth, followed by Love Everybody, Barrier Reef and Groom’s Cat.