Yankee Fourtune remained undefeated in five starts on turf, inching away in upper stretch and holding off a pair of rivals in the late going to win the $121,900 Commonwealth Turf (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a length Nov. 13 at Churchill Downs.
The son of Yankee Gentleman defeated a dozen 3-year-olds for his second straight graded stakes victory. Since trainer Kiaran McLaughlin moved him to turf this season the gray/roan gelding has not been beaten. His lone career defeat came in his debut on the Monmouth Park dirt last summer.
Victor Santiago guided Yankee Fourtune to victory for Harvey A. Clarke and Andrew Albstein, who purchased him for $37,000 at the Keeneland September 2008 yearling sale. He was bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones.
Yankee Fourtune sat a perfect trip under Santiago, racing in third for a half-mile while Lighthouse Sound and Stormy Lord set the pace through splits of :24.53 and :49.30. As they made their way into the final turn, Yankee Fourtune engaged Stormy Lord and after straightening away he began to inch clear.
Yankee Fourtune spent most of the stretch drive holding off Turallure and Robby Albarado, but had the race put away inside the sixteenth-pole. A late run by 40-1 longshot Guys Reward was good enough to edge out Turallure by a neck for second. The final time for 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf course was 1:44.68.
“Kiaran told me yesterday morning that there were a couple speed horses and whatever decision I make, go to the front or sit back third or fourth, that just to ride with confidence like I own him," Santiago said. "I knew there were some speed horses and they came a little fast from the gate. But I knew I could ask my horse and make him go, then sit a little chilly and save something for the end."
The winner, who is out of the Mi Cielo mare Madam Ann, entered the race off a victory in the Oct. 10 Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) in his stakes debut. He won twice in allowance company this summer at Saratoga after breaking his maiden in July at Belmont.
Yankee Fourtune upped his earnings to $238,512.
"That was a great race for us to win," McLaughlin said. "Victor made a great decision in laying third. He was just plain old the best horse and he rode him great. It was nice to see him sit off the pace today.
"We hope next year he’s going to be a top horse. We’ll go to Florida with him. He ships tomorrow, and then we’d love to point him to the Maker’s Mark Mile (gr. I) at Keeneland, and just go from there.”
Sent off as the favorite, he paid $7.60, $5.20, and $3.80. The exacta (11-4) returned $250.40 and the trifecta (11-4-8) was worth $2,547.40.
Mystic was fourth, followed by Mister Marti Gras, Stormy Lord, Celtic New Year, Don Cavallo, Thunder Brew, Dark Cove, Beau Choix, Uareoutlaw, and Lighthouse Sound.