It was the third consecutive stakes victory for 4-year-old Regally Ready, who shipped to Kentucky after enjoying winter success in California for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Grapestock bred Regally Ready in Kentucky. The chestnut gelding is by More Than Ready out of the King of Kings mare Kivi. The five-furlong Turf Sprint was the first graded race on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) undercard.
With rain just beginning to fall at Churchill, Southern Region set the pace under Corely Lanerie. He ran the first quarter-mile in :21.89 while Bridgetown pressed the pace and Regally Ready sat in the pocket along the hedge.
After a half-mile in :44.89, Bridgetown took over at the top of the lane and seemed to be on his way to victory, leading by one length mid-stretch with John Velazquez aboard. But Corey Nakatani angled Regally Ready out a bit for the drive, and the gelding drove between horses to pass Bridgetown in deep stretch for his seventh win in 13 lifetime starts.
Bridgetown settled for second, while favored Chamberlain Bridge closed for third under Jamie Theriot, beaten by 4 1/2 lengths. Chamberlain Bridge, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IIT) at Churchill, had won four of his previous five starts on the course.
"This makes me three-for-three on him," Nakatani said. "And they're thinking this horse is only going to get better and be a Breeders' Cup horse by the end of the year."
Regally Ready, who took the San Simeon Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita Park in his last start April 16, won for the second time in as many starts at Churchill. He won an allowance race on the turf last November in his other try. He earned $66,876 for the victory, boosting his career total to $364,854.
"He has run quite a bit recently so now we need to map out a plan that gets him back here for (the Breeders' Cup)," Asmussen said.
The winner paid $8, $4.40, and $3 as the third choice. Bridgetown returned $4 and $2.80, and Chamberlain Bridge paid $2.60 to show. The exacta was worth $27.20 and the trifecta with the three top betting favorites brought $60.20.