Maiden Animal Spirits overtook Coalport in the final strides to capture the $150,000 Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) on the turf after pacesetter Here Comes Frazier bounced into the rail in the homestretch at Keeneland Oct. 9.
Jockey Julien Leparoux was thrown over the rail past the three-sixteenths pole but rose under his own power after a couple of minutes and walked off the course. Leparoux, who won eight races during the first two days of the Keeneland meet, later complained of pain in his left hand but rode in the next race, the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I).
Here Comes Frazier, the 7-2 second choice in the field of a dozen 2-year-olds, was not as lucky. A few hours after the race, he was shipped to Rood and Riddle vet clinic, according to trainer Kenny McPeek.
“He’s very lame," McPeek said. "He’s got a compound fracture of the right hock. He needs surgery and we're not sure whether he can make it back. It’s career-threatening and possibly life-threatening..”
Animal Spirits was ridden to a half-length victory at 8-1 odds by Robby Albarado for trainer Al Stall Jr. and owners Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence. The bay son of Arch out of the Mr. Prospector mare Pennant Champion had one prior start, finishing a tough second in a 1 1/16-mile maiden event on the Saratoga turf Aug. 20 by a head to Fantastic Song.
Tenth after six furlongs in the Bourbon, Animal Spirits angled five paths wide entering the stretch and flew home after getting clear to score in time over Coalport.
A $50,000 Keeneland September yearling buy last year, Animal Spirits was bred in Kentucky by B.P. Walden and P. Steinberg.
Stall noted the complexion of the race changed when the Team Valor International horse State of Play was not entered. Otherwise, Animal Spirits could have landed in a maiden race earlier on the Keeneland card.
"We just wanted to run our horse because he was doing so well," Stall said. "I didn’t want to take a chance getting excluded from a maiden race, so we (decided to enter in) this race. Obviously, it was a spill-marred race, but our horse ran a very good race on the outside.”
Here Comes Frazier, making his turf debut following a first-out seven-length maiden win at Arlington Park Sept. 5, overtook Curfew Tower for the early lead. He maintained a solid advantage through quarter-mile fractions of :23.83, :49.03, and 1:14.11. Here Comes Frazier increased his edge rounding the turn and dug in for the stretch drive as Splendiferous struggled to keep up.
But Here come Frazier apparently shied from the right-handed whip from Leparoux approaching mid-stretch and took a left turn, jumping into the rail sideways and depositing Leparoux on the other side. Amazingly, no other horses or riders were involved and the loose horse was quickly rounded up by an outrider.
Coalport, closing well for Junior Alvarado, inherited the lead and was headed for victory. But he could not hold off the late-surging Animal Spirits.
“When I made a run he really responded pretty good, but when (Here Comes Frazier) jumped the rail and made that noise, my horse kind of stopped and spooked a little bit," Alvarado said. "He tried to go outside, and then I really lost the momentum right there. When he started to pick up again it was kind of late. (Animal Spirits) was coming already.”
Albarado said Animal Spirits was not bothered by the incident with Here Comes Frazier but had to overcome other problems.
“He was way back," Albarado said of the winner. "He broke a bit tardy, got squeezed back, and was behind a bunch of trouble in the first turn. He’s so mature. He seems like an older horse out there. He came home real nice.”
A debut maiden winner at one mile on the Arlington turf in his only start Sept. 23, Coalport finished well clear in second by 1 1/2 lengths over Irish-bred Lucky Chappy and Ramon Dominguez.
McPeek added about Here Comes Frazier:
“He’s a really good horse. He’d never been hit (with a crop) in his life. He’s so fast (that) we’ve never even had to lay a stick on him. I think he was shocked. Julien rolled the stick over and hit him right-handed, and the horse was just shocked. That scared him over the rail.
“He’s so talented. I just hope he’s OK.”
Monastic, the 2-1 favorite, was never a factor and finished 10th.
Stall said he was unsure where Animal Spirits, who earned $90,000 for the victory, would race next.
"Obviously, the big question is whether you go over to Louisville and run in that race (the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf), but we’ll see.”
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, the winner paid $18.60, $9.40, and $5.20 as the fourth choice. Coalport returned $11.80 and $4.40 while rounding out a $226.80 exacta. Lucky Chappy, who closed from last in his American debut for Team Valor International, paid $4.40 to show.
Splendiferous finished a half-length farther back in fourth, followed by Chalybeate Springs, Curfew Tower, Gold Megillah, Downtown Driggs, Burn the Mortgage, Monastic, and Smart Ellis.