Churchill Downs S. (gr. II)

(gr. II , 7f ,)

ELITE SQUADRON (CH h, 118 lb) $169,595
Officer —Sweet Mama , by High Brite
B—Matt Herbener, KY.; O—Tom R. Walters; T—James E. Baker

Noonmark (DK B/ h, 120 lb) $54,708
Unbridled's Song —In the Storm , by Storm Cat
B—John D. Murphy Sr., KY.; O—Bolton, George, Corrigan, Joan and Beck, Antony; T—Steven M. Asmussen

Hewitts (B g, 118 lb) $27,354
Concerto —Romance Me , by Cozzene
B—Dianne D. Cotter, FL.; O—Harold F. Greene; T—Robert B. Hess, Jr.

Margins: 4½, head, 1½. Others: Island Warrior 118($13,677) , Thousand Words (GB) 118($8,206) , Junior College 118($2,820) , Carnacks Choice 118($2,820) , Spotsgone 120($2,820) . Winning Jockey, John R. Velazquez.

Elite Squadron brought joyful tears to his connectionsÕ eyes when he became their first graded stakes winner by taking the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) on Derby day.

ÒHe has improved in every race,Ó said an emotional owner Tom Walters. ÒHe was third in the (Richter Scale Sprint Handicap, gr. II) and second in the (Commonwealth Stakes, gr. II), and in this race, he went wire-to-wire.Ó

The 4-year-old son of Officer broke sharply from Post 1, took the early lead, and kept going, finishing 41Ú2 lengths in front of the favorite, Noonmark.

ÒI was ready to cry I was so happy,Ó said trainer James Baker. ÒHe is a nice colt, and IÕve put a lot of effort into him. HeÕs first class; he makes it easy for me.Ó

Elite Squadron broke his maiden as a 3-year-old at Churchill Downs. His first stakes win came in the Tom Ridge Labor Day Stakes at Presque Isle Downs later that year. The colt went on to place in both the Richter Scale at Gulfstream Park and the Commonwealth at Keeneland this year before returning to Churchill to earn his first graded stakes win.

ÒI just wish my son was here to see it,Ó Walters said, Òbecause he was the one who picked the horse out.Ó

Walters said his son, Chris, liked Elite SquadronÕs Officer line. Walters bought the Kentucky-bred colt privately from his breeder, Matt Herbener.

Elite Squadron is out of Sweet Mama (by High Brite). Sweet Mama took the 1993 Songstress Stakes at Golden Gate Fields and placed in three other stakes including the grade II Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park. Sweet Mama is out of the winning Arts and Letters mare Misty Mom.

Misty Mom also produced a stakes-winning Trapp Mountain gelding named Fenton Lane and a stakes-placed Personal Hope gelding named Ismahli. Misty MomÕs unraced foal Glimmer Ice (by Pine Bluff) went on to produce a stakes-winning Judge T C foal named Spanish Lace.

Sweet Mama has produced seven winning foals. Elite Squadron is her first stakes winner, but her 9-year-old daughter Darting Dot (by Geri) is stakes-placed.

Herbener sold Sweet Mama to W.J. Hindman at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale for $37,000. She was in foal to Forest Camp.

Sweet MamaÕs Forest Camp foal is a 2-year-old filly named Cathedral Flyer and her most recent foal is a yearling colt by Bernstein. She was bred to Congressionalhonor for 2008.

Officer is the sire of Elite Squadron and 13 other stakes winners, including additional 2008 added-money winner U.S. Cavalry. The 9-year-old son of Bertrando stands at the Taylor familyÕs Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., for $35,000.K.B.