A 6-year-old homebred horse by Smart Strike, Utley broke from post 9 in a 10-horse field and settled in toward the rear of the pack through most of the 1 1/16-mile Dixie. Swung five wide into the stretch, he rallied in the lane to sweep by the top three runners on the outside to win by a length. Hey Leroy nosed out Chamois for second, and Chamois finished a head in front of Charming Kitten.
Utley is trained by Jonathan Sheppard and was guided by Edgar Prado, who rode him to a fifth-place finish in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park in January.
Fractions for the Dixie on a course rated good were :23.87 for the opening quarter mile, :47.90 for the half mile, 1:12.54 for six furlongs, and 1:37.74 for one mile. The final time was 1:43.88.
Utley paid $17, $7.40, and $5 across the board. Hey Leroy, who was coming off of a victory at Gulfstream in allowance/optional claiming company, returned $4.60 and $3.40. Chamois paid $5.60. The $2 exacta returned $69.20 and the $1 trifecta paid $125.20.
Bred in Kentucky, Utley is out of the Nureyev mare No Matter What. He entered the Dixie off of a solid second-place finish in a strong allowance/optional claiming test at Churchill Downs May 1. His previous victory came in a similar spot on the turf at Keeneland in April 2013.
Utley now has six wins, two seconds, and four thirds in 24 starts. The first-place check in the Dixie more than doubled his earnings to $448,666.