Making his turf racing debut Saturday while equipped with blinkers for the first time, Joseph Lacombe and Frank and Jane Lyon's Indygo Shiner earned a neck-length victory in the $282,500 Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs. Under Lonnie Meche, the 3-year-old son of A.P. Indy completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.81 on firm turf.
Indygo Shiner set a moderate pace while pressed from the outside by 7-5 favorite Kalu. Indygo Shiner kept his head in front after a half-mile run in :48.09 and six furlongs in 1:12.06. Kalu moved to the lead with just over a quarter-mile to run, but Indygo Shiner fought back -- bumping Kalu in the process -- before holding off the late challenge of Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT) winner Strategic Partner.
"They put blinkers on him for the first time and it really put him in the race early," said Meche. "In his other races he would never get in gear, but today he was focused with the blinkers on."
Maiden Fast City finished third at odds of 65-1 and was followed by Kalu, X Country, Monsieur Cat, Afternoon Pleasure, Bundy Rum, and French-import Tarzan Cry, who was making his first start for Walden. Harrisand, another French-import, was scratched.
The win marks the first in a stakes for Indygo Shiner, who finished fourth in the Sir Barton Stakes in his most recent race prior to the Jefferson Cup. As a juvenile, he finished second to Macho Uno in the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-I). Indygo Shiner earned $175,150 for the win, his third in six career starts.
"The blinkers really helped him," said assistant trainer David Fortner. "He's been a late bloomer and the blinkers seem to help him focus. He was so much more aggressive today. He was bred for the turf and we took a shot with him making his turf debut in a stakes."
Sent off at nearly 7-1, Indygo Shiner returned $15.80, $6.40, and $5.60. Strategic Partner paid $3.80 and $3 as the second wagering choice. Fast City was worth $14.20 to show. The winning exacta combination paid $66.
Indygo Shiner is out of Navarra, by El Gran Senor, and was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm. (Chart, Equibase