Making his third start for trainer Todd Pletcher, Black Rock Stables’ Silver Medallion pulled clear in the stretch and coasted home for an easy 1 3/4-length win in the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) on closing day at Calder Casino & Race Course.
A Triple Crown prospect earlier in the year when racing for Steve Asmussen, Silver Medallion was making his third consecutive turf start for Pletcher, who took over conditioning duties in the summer. The 3-year-old son of Badge of Silver notched the second graded stakes victory of his career, completing 1 1/8 miles over the firm turf course in 1:48.84 under Javier Castellano.
Black Rock bought Silver Medallion privately at the start of the year after he won the Eddie Logan Stakes on the Santa Anita turf and the El Camino Real Derby (gr. IIIT) at Golden Gate Fields in February. Nick Sallusto brokered the deal. He was then was given a couple of chances to make the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) but finished fourth in both Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and Lexington Stakes (gr. II).
In the Tropical Turf, Silver Medallion followed pacesetter Chosen Empire for six furlongs, made a big move approaching the final turn, and took over when they straightened away. He held a two-length lead at the eighth-pole and was never seriously threatened in the final furlong. Favored Mr. Ryder rallied well under jockey Joe Bravo, but was clearly second best. Hollinger was third.
"This is a very nice grass horse," Castellano said. "I rode him in the Lexington and he is more mature now. We were very lucky today with how the race unfolded, with only one speed horse. We tracked Trujillo (aboard Chosen Empire) all the way. He settled nicely and I think that was the key today."
Silver Medallion was second in an optional claimer Oct. 7 at Woodbine in his debut for Pletcher, then finished third in the Nov. 3 Commonwealth Turf (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs. He improved to 4-2-1 from 11 starts and earnings of $366,123.
The bay colt was bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones and is out of the Stalwart mare Another Vegetarian. He was originally purchased for $150,000 by Mike Ryan, agent, at the Keeneland September 2009 yearling sale.
“He’s versatile, but obviously at home on the grass," said David Callan of Black Rock. "We gave him a chance to see if he could be a Derby horse after we bought him. He did all right, but we knew if it didn’t work out, we’d still have a nice grass horse.”
The winner paid $13.20, $5.20, and $4. The exacta (7-6) returned $38 and the trifecta (7-6-9) was worth $150.20.