Pyro's Heat Re-Found in Northern Dancer
Pyro’s form of old returned June 14 at Churchill Downs as the son of Pulpit powered to a 1 3/4-length win over five fellow 3-year-olds in the Northern Dancer Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO). The Steve Asmussen-trained colt covered the 1 1/16 miles of the $190,925 race in 1:43.53.
Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro was making his first start since an eighth-place finish behind Big Brown May 3 in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). He was the 5-1 second choice in the Derby, but was roughed up at the break and sat a mid-pack trip for most of the race.
In the Northern Dancer, Pyro broke from post two under Shaun Bridgmohan and was in tight early, but moved out a bit and tracked the leaders while in a comfortable position in third. Leading the way was Texas Wildcatter and My Pal Charlie, and the two set splits of :24.88, :48.83, and 1:13.08. Pyro picked up the tempo and pulled on even terms with the leaders on the turn while coming with a three-wide move. He drew clear from his foes at the eighth pole.
My Pal Charlie finished second, 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Visionaire, who had previously finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby. Recapturetheglory, the Derby’s fifth-place finisher and even-money favorite in the Northern Dancer, was fourth, and was followed by Texas Wildcatter and Unbridled Vicar.
Tiz Now Tiz Then was scratched.
Pyro returned $5.60, $3.60, and $2.60. My Pal Charlie paid $6.60 and $3.60 and Visionaire paid $3.20. The 2-5 exacta paid $35.20.
“The horse left there very cleanly today and Shaun had him in great position,” said Asmussen. “He ran a very strong race. I’m just proud of how he acted. Pre-race, he was very confident and back to how he was over the winter. I was very glad to see it. Hopefully this is the first step to a very good second half of the year."
Pyro, a dark bay or brown Kentucky-bred colt out of the Wild Again mare Wild Vision, has now won four of nine starts and has earned $1,174,063 after collecting the winner’s share of $117,345 from the Northern Dancer. Earlier this year he won the Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) and Louisiana Derby (gr. II) in back-to-back efforts at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
“He was coming off two extremely disappointing efforts for a top-class horse," said Asmussen. "This was a quality field today and he handled what was thrown at him. He was a lot sharper in the race and looked comfortable the whole time. Hopefully we can map out a schedule that has some important races in it for 3-year-olds for the year.”
As a 2-year-old, Pyro ran second to champion War Pass in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
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