Pacesetter My Afleet ran the race of his life Sept. 6 at Kentucky Downs as he denied highly regarded Medal Count in a thrilling finish to the $250,000 Dueling Grounds Derby on the turf at Kentucky Downs Sept. 6 (VIDEO).
With 7-5 favorite Medal Count challenging to his inside in the stretch, Jeffrey Amling and Merriefield Farm's My Afleet refused to give in, matching strides and hanging tough for more than a quarter mile under Leandro Goncalves. My Afleet prevailed by a flared nostril in the 1 5/16-mile turf test at the Western Kentucky track while timed in 2:14.10 on firm going.
The race marked the stakes debut for My Afleet, who has come on at age 3 after going winless in two starts last year. The son of Afleet Alex has 3-2-1 record from six starts in 2014 for trainer James L. Lawrence II.
In the classic division this spring, Medal Count was eighth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) for Spendthrift Farm and trainer Dale Romans. The Dynaformer colt finished ninth in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) July 27 in his previous start and was making his second start on grass after winning an allowance/optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park in January.
Bumped at the start and racing mid-pack for three-quarters of a mile, Medal Count was game for Robby Albarado in the Dueling Grounds Derby after ranging up to second, just a head behind My Afleet, with five-sixteenths of a mile to run. He briefly got his head in front early in the stretch but My Afleet gave a mighty effort for the victory.
My Afleet paid $19, $7, and $3.40 while Medal Count returned $3.40 and $2.20. Can'thelpbelieving, who finished four lengths farther back, brought $2.80 to show.
American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT) victor Global View was fourth, followed by Captain Dixie, Rankhasprivileges, Woodfield Springs, and Laddie Boy to complete the order of finish in the field of eight sophomores.
Amling bred My Afleet in Kentucky with Charles Noel. The gray or roan gelding is out of the winning Lasting Approval mare My Own Story.
Angled widest into the stretch, Ol' Memorial Stable's homebred son of Stroll won by two lengths from 8-5 favorite Luck of the Kitten, who set the early pace. Final time was 1:26.10 for seven furlongs (VIDEO).
Garry Sims trains Croninthebarbarian ($10.40), who has two wins from three starts.
In making her fifth career start, Nicky's Brown Miss was timed in 1:26.35 for seven furlongs.