2nd at 3LOUISIANA DERBY
(gr. II , 8.5f , to Pyro, defeating Yankee Bravo, Blackberry Road, Stevil, Tale of Ekati, Majestic Warrior, J Be K, Unbridled Vicar ).
For the second time this year, Pyro emerged the winner of a graded stakes after firing big in the stretch. The first time came in the Feb. 9 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds in his 3-year-old debut and the second time came March 8 in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at the New Orleans oval.
Pyro’s victory in the Louisiana Derby solidified his hold as one of the favorites for the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Pyro captured the 11/16-mile race by three lengths in 1:44.44, a tad faster than his 1:44.68 triumph in the Risen Star.
A son of Pulpit, Pyro races as a homebred for Winchell Thoroughbreds, which is a partnership of Ron Winchell and his mother, Joan. It was Joan Winchell’s late husband, Verne H. Winchell, who started the family in racing. Winchell died in 2002.
The day after the Louisiana Derby, it was announced that Pyro would stand at Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley near Lexington after his retirement from racing (page 1487).
A victory in the Louisiana Derby carries thoughts of future success in the Kentucky Derby. As recently as 1996, Grindstone, that year’s Louisiana Derby winner, went on to capture the Run for the Roses. And as far back as 1924, Black Gold, that year’s Louisiana Derby winner, won the Kentucky Derby.
In 2003, two of the first three finishers in the Louisiana Derby filled two of the top three spots in the Kentucky Derby. Champion Funny Cide, second in the Louisiana Derby, won the Churchill Downs’ classic, and Peace Rules, the Louisiana Derby winner, ran third in the Run for the Roses.
The connection between the two Derbys was established with the very first running of the Louisiana Derby. Damask, the 1920 winner, ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby. Damask perhaps is best known for being Man o’ War’s sole competitor in that year’s Jockey Club Stakes (now the Jockey Club Gold Cup, gr. I). Man o’ War won under a pull by 15 lengths.
Pyro’s dam, Wild Vision, is kept at the Winchell’s Corinthia (formerly Oakwind Farm) near Lexington. She is in foal to Tapit, a son of Pulpit who won the 2004 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) for Ron Winchell. Tapit stands at the Beck family’s Gainesway Farm near Lexington. Wild Vision is booked to Pulpit.
Pulpit has sired 33 stakes winners, including additional 2008 added-money winner Bsharpsonata (gr. II). Pulpit stands for $80,000 at the Hancock family’s Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky.—D.S.
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