Hudson River Farms’ Sovereign Duty ambled around the Keeneland turf course before closing with a powerful late kick to take the $150,000 Royal Chase Sport of Kings Hurdle (NSA-I)(VIDEO) in Lexington April 17.
The 6-year-old Kimgmambo gelding came off an allowance hurdle victory going 1 ¼ miles at Camden to claim his fourth win in 17 career starts for trainer Jonathan Sheppard. It was the first graded score for the $425,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase, who completed the 2 ¼ miles under jockey Danielle Hodsdon in 4:58.13
At the start of the Royal Chase, Sheppard’s other trainee – Sweet Shani – took the lead under jockey Xavier Azipuru and had six lengths on the field going into the first fence. Carrying 141, the eight-year-old Kashani mare was followed by Sovereign Duty, while Orison and Best Attack raced as a team. Feeling So Pretty and Swimming River brought up the rear.
That order remained mostly unchanged through three circuits of the track, until the final turn when Sweet Shani still maintained a lead on the field. Best Attack split from Orison and moved up to second, but Hodsdon had reserved just enough on Sovereign Duty to dive down to the inside and nip Swet Shani on the line. Only a neck separated the top two.
Sent off at odds of 5-2, Sovereign Duty returned $7.20, $3.40, and $2.40 while Sweet Shani paid $3.60 and $2.60 and Best Attack brought $3. Orison, Swimming River, and Feeling Pretty completed the order of finish. Preemptive Strike scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by William S. Farish Jr. out of the Nijinsky II mare Duty Dance, Sovereign Duty now holds a career record of 4-2-3 from 17 starts, with earnings of $208,249.