Eugene Melnyk's homebred Bridgetown made a rare off-the-pace rally to land Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Woodford going 5 1/2 furlongs on Keeneland's firm turf. Favored at 3-5 in the field of six, the five-year-old son of Speightsown wore down long-time leader Great Mills inside the final furlong to post a one-length win in a time of 1:02 2/5.
Settled by jockey Javier Castellano three lengths behind Great Mills through an opening quarter of :21 3/5, Bridgetown cut into that deficit around the far turn as Great Mills turned back longshot Ginplay. Attempting to open up in the lane after setting a half-mile split of :44 2/5, Great Mills could not separate himself as Bridgetown swung out for the final three-sixteenths and wore down the leader while under pressure. Bridgetown rewarded his backers with mutuels of $3.40, $2.20 and $2.10."It was a beautiful trip. It worked out great for me," Castellano said. "My horse didn't break that sharp. I took my time on the backside. They went pretty fast in the first quarter-mile. He settled beautifully behind the leaders and when I asked him he responded so well. He got it done."
Great Mills held second by a half-length over Chamberlain Bridge, who had raced in tandem with Bridgetown early but failed to show the same kick as the winner. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Wekiva Wachee, who was followed by Icon Ike and Ginplay. Will's Wildcat was scratched.
The Woodford was the seventh career stakes win for the Todd Pletcher-trained Bridgetown, whose only other Grade 3 score occurred during his juvenile season in the 2009 Summer at Woodbine. His other black-type victories include two renewals of the Troy at Saratoga, the Latham at Saratoga, the Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs, and the Gilded Time at Monmouth Park.
Bridgetown, who has placed in other lucrative events such as the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Grade 3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint and the Parx Dash, has now earned $934,700 from a line of 19-9-5-1.
The Florida-bred Bridgetown was produced by the stakes-placed Tabasco Cat mare Ellesmere, making him a half-brother to multiple stakes winners Carnacks Choice and Clement Rock. Ellesmere was produced by a half-sister to 1991 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold.