Aikenite, who nearly set a seven-furlong track record at Keeneland during last year’s fall meet, rallied from off the pace, collared Cool Bullet at the sixteenth-pole, and drew away for a decisive 2 1/4–length victory in the $175,000 Commonwealth Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) on April 16.
Aikenite won an optional claimer by 5 1/2 lengths at Keeneland on Oct. 15 in a stellar final time of 1:20.88. His Commonwealth final time of 1:22.35 under John Velequez was not nearly as fast, but it was plenty good enough to down his four rivals.
Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher teamed up to snare consecutive graded stakes on the afternoon, as Stratford Hill took the Shakertown (gr. IIIT) in the previous race. Aikenite is owned by Cot Campbell’s Dogwood Stable, who earned a prestigious gold tray for their eighth graded stakes triumph at Keeneland. Only 16 other owners have accomplished that feat at the Lexington racetrack.
The 4-year-old son of Yes It's True was bred in Florida by Brylynn Farm.
“We were looking forward to running Aikenite here for a while now,” Pletcher said. “He seems to like this surface and he’s in good form.”
The two longshots in the field showed the way in the Commonwealth, as Le Grand Cru and Cool Bullet battled through an opening quarter-mile in :22.68. Cool Bullet and Shaun Bridgomahn took over heading into the turn and were in front when they turned for home after running a half-mile in :45.29.
Cool Bullet had a one-length advantage at the eighth-pole and was still going well, but Aikenite, who raced wide near and the back in the early going, moved into striking distance on the turn, entered four-wide into the lane, and gobbled up Cool Bullet in mid-stretch en route to his first graded stakes win.
Cool Bullet settled for second, two lengths in front of Le Grand Cru and Jamie Theriot. Even-money favorite Wise Dan finished a disappointing fourth, while Taqarub was eased.
Aikenite finished his 3-year-old season with an eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. He was second in an optional claimer March 5 at Gulfstream Park in his season debut. As a juvenile, Aikenite was grade I placed in the Three Chimneys’ Hopeful at Saratoga and Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.
Aikenite, who is out of the Saint Ballado mare Silverlado, improved to 4-3-2 from 16 starts with earnings of $487,460.
The winner paid $4.60, $3.20, and $2.40. The exacta (1-4) returned $28.40 and the trifecta (1-4-3) was worth $120.40.