Steady rain and sloppy track conditions did nothing to dampen the fortunes of Stronach Stables and trainer Bobby Frankel when the 4-year-old homebred Giant Gizmo scored a come-from-behind victory in the $166,050 Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Churchill Downs, giving them their second graded stakes win on the May 2 card.
Two races earlier, Stronach and Frankel’s champion Ginger Punch took the Louisville Stakes (gr. III).
Giant Gizmo, a Giant's Causeway colt who was fifth coming down the backstretch in the Alysheba, went five wide nearing the final turn and took over in the upper stretch to draw clear for the win.
“Well, he likes the slop!” Frankel exclaimed afterward.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, he completed the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:43.98 on a sealed track. Pacesetter Better Than Bonds, with Edgar Prado aboard, held for second along the rail by a neck, with 19-10 favorite Wanderin Boy, the defending Alysheba winner, checking in third under Corey Nakatani.
“He broke a little slow so I just took him inside and tried to get him relaxed," Bejarano said. "He didn’t like getting mud in the face, so around the three-eighths I put him on the outside and he made a little move on the turn and he started running really good.”
Grade III winner Chelokee, who went off as the second choice at odds of 2-1, took a bad step and fell, dumping rider Ramon Dominguez at the top of the stretch. Centennial Farms’ 4-year-old Cherokee Run colt was vanned off after the race.
“He appears, on first exam, to have a (right front) condylar fracture that then affected the stability in his ankle," said veterinarian Larry Bramlage. "That’s amazingly very similar to what Barbaro had, only in another leg. He’s being x-rayed, and they are assessing him right now. He is in a splint and currently in transit to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington. We’ll have more information after a full evaluation."
Dominguez was examined at the track first-aid station and cleared to return to the jockeys' room. Chelokee was in fourth position at the time of the fall, less than three lengths behind.
“He was traveling absolutely perfect," Dominguez said. "I had the best horse in the race. I was just trying to pick my spot and as soon as he got to the top of the lane, he switched to his right lead and broke down. There was absolutely no contact.”
Giant Gizmo, who went off at 5-1, scored his first stakes victory in the Alysheba. He came into the race off an allowance-optional claiming victory at Santa Anita Park Feb. 25. Before that, he finished sixth in the Feb. 8 Strub Stakes (gr. II), also at Santa Anita. The Alysheba marked his first start at Churchill Downs.
Bred in Kentucky in the name of the Stronach family’s Adena Springs, Giant Gizmo boasts an overall record of 5-1-1 from 10 starts and earnings of $268,685 after collecting the winner's share of $100,896. Giant Gizmo is out of Golden Antigua, by Hansel.
The winner paid $12.60, $6.40 and $4. Better Than Bonds, who clicked off quarter-mile fractions of :23.56, :47.41 and 1:11.97, returned $10 and $5.20. Wanderin Boy was $3.20 to show. Prom Shoes, Magna Graduate and Jonesboro followed.