Doubles Partner bounds away from the field in the American Turf Stakes. <br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Doubles Partner bounds away from the field in the American Turf Stakes.
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Rick Samuels

Doubles Partner Dazzles in American Turf Win

Son of Rock Hard Ten won his first stakes race in the American Turf.

WinStar Farm’s Doubles Partner, once considered a contender for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), rebounded from an eighth-place finish in the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) when he posted an authoritative win in the $200,550 American Turf (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) April 30 on the Kentucky Oaks day undercard.

The victory kicked off what could be a big weekend for WinStar, which will send out Super Saver  and American Lion  in the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 1.

Settling in on the rail mid-pack early, Doubles Partner rated off the runaway lead of Lost Aptitude and Strike the Tiger, who set early fractions of :23.41, :46.87, and 1:11.03 over a frim turf while opening up on the rest of the field by 13 lengths after a half-mile.

Doubles Partner began making up ground around the turn under Garrett Gomez, switching outside of Strike the Tiger at the quarter pole before making a powerful run for the wire and finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front.

“I had a perfect trip, I really did," Gomez said. "I was able to follow two horses that were following the leaders. I just followed behind them for the first three-eighths of a mile. I got to the second turn and I was actually going to move out around them.

"Just as I started to commit myself to go around them the horse Alan Garcia was on (Saint Eligius) started getting out real bad and left me enough room to drive my truck through. I slid up the fence after the leaders cleared out. You couldn’t have written a better script on how to ride both fences around the turns and be able to get out. It was a very nice trip and this was a good day to have it on.”

The Todd Pletcher trainee was chased home by Joseph Riccelli’s Asphalt, who was three lengths clear of third-place finisher Guys Reward. Favored Setsuko was fourth. The time for the mile was 1:35.04, and the final time for the 1 1/8-mile event was 1:41.05.

“We thought early on he lacked a little focus, but he’s a lot more professional and settled now," Pletcher said. "We tried the Lane’s End (on March 27), but he’s just better on the turf. He’s stepping up at the right time and is an improving colt."

A $450,000 yearling purchase from the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, Doubles Partner was bred in Florida by Arthur Appleton. Prior to the American Turf, the bay colt by Rock Hard TenSerena's Sister, by Rahy, was best known for defeating Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro’s brother, Lentenor , in a 1 1/8 mile turf allowance event Feb. 17.

Doubles Partner now owns a record of 3-0-1 from 7 lifetime starts. He earned $119,367 for the victory, boosting his career total to $184,090.

Sent off as the third choice in a field of nine, Doubles Partner paid $11.20, $5.80 and $4.40 and keyed a $95 exacta. Asphalt, ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer Eddie Kenneally, returned $8.80 and $5.80. Guys Reward, with Jose Lezcano aboard, rallied from last and paid $7.60 to show.

Setsuko was a half-length back without an apparent excuse as the 9-5 choice. He was followed by Workin for Hops, Gleam of Hope, Saint Eligius, Strike the Tiger and Lost Aptitude. Alfarabi and Make Music for Me scratched.