Trainer D. Wayne Lukas earned his sixth victory in the $300,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful (gr. I) (VIDEO) when favored Dublin posted a two-length win on closing day of the 2009 Saratoga Race Course meet Sept. 7.
The 2-year-old son of Afleet Alex was sent off favored at 3-1 in the 12-horse field in spite of 8-1 morning line odds. Ridden by Jamie Theriot, Dublin raced on the outside to get the lead in the stretch and opened a clear edge in spite of drifting out. Theriot was able to correct Dublin under stern handling and they held sway to score convincingly over Aspire, who encountered some traffic difficulty before rallying for second under Julien Leparoux. Aikenite closed up well to get the show spot with Alan Garcia aboard. The winning time for the seven furlongs on a fast track was 1:23.52.
A $525,000 September Keeneland yearling buy in 2008, Dublin is owned by Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack. The long-striding chestnut colt is out of Classy Mirage, by Storm Bird. Lukas believed from the start that the enormous youngster was worth the investment when he recommended him to Baker and Mack.
“This was my No. 1 pick in the sales,” the 74-year-old Lukas said. “I still haven’t lost my eye in that (department).”
Dublin’s sire, Afleet Alex, won the Hopeful in 2004.
“He has a long, rangy stride,” Lukas said of Dublin. “He’s got a lot of balance to him. He’s pretty gifted. I like to play in the main arena — these 2-year olds, when they turn 3, that’s the name of the game. Bill Mack and Bob Baker are the reason this horse is here.”
One Note Samba, with Flatter Than Me on his outside, battled on the front end through swift early fractions of :22.10 and :44.97, but both came under extreme fire from Westover Wildcat leaving the quarter pole. Dublin, who stumbled at the start, was rated mid-pack on the outside by Theriot. He ranged up quickly four wide and engaged the leaders, eventually wresting control from Westover Wildcat approaching mid-stretch. Dublin, drifting out under left-handed urging, raced a bit erratically through the lane but won as much the best.
“He stumbled badly at the break, but he recovered very quickly,” Theriot said. “He was a little green coming down the lane. If I hit him right-handed, he’d duck left a little; if I hit him left-handed, he’d duck right. But he’ll grow out of that. I think (more) distance won’t be a problem for him. We will see a different horse when he goes two turns. My idea was to come to Saratoga and find myself a (Kentucky) Derby horse. We think he’s a good one.”
Aspire, a maiden winner in his debut at Saratoga Aug. 12, had a difficult trip under Leparoux before angling four wide and finally getting room in the stretch. He was drawing closer to the winner as they reached the wire. Aikenite, also a maiden winner at first asking at Saratoga Aug. 9, was outrun early and rallied from 11th after a half-mile with a strong closing move in the middle of the track. He finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Aspire. Backtalk, winner of the Sanford Stakes (gr. II) in his last start, was a half-length back in fourth after making a sharp move on the turn and flattening out. Second choice Enumerate was a disappointment, tiring to 11th.
Dublin was making his third start . In his debut, Dublin finished fourth behind the victorious Backtalk after being pinched back at the start and making a belated move in a five-furlong maiden race at Churchill Downs June 11. Lukas brought Dublin back Aug. 1 at Saratoga and the good-looking prospect won impressively, drawing off at six furlongs to win by 3 1/4 lengths in time of 1:09.45.
With the victory, Dublin joins Deposit Ticket (1990), Salt Lake (1991), Hennessy (1995), High Yield (1999) and Yonaguska (2000) as Hopeful winners trained by Lukas.
The trainer said he would like to stretch out Dublin around two turns in his next start but would entertain a possible start in the $400,000 Champagne (gr. I), a one-turn mile on Oct. 10 at Belmont Park. He plans to send Dublin back to his base at Churchill Downs and plot his course.
“The first thing we’re going to do is pack him in Styrofoam, and I’ll put my layaway down next to him,” Lukas joked.
The winner earned $180,000 for the victory and paid $8.20, $5.80, and $3.80. Gary and Mary West's homebred Aspire, from the Eddie Kenneally barn, returned $8.40 and $8.20 and completed a $91 exacta. Aikenite, trained by Todd Pletcher for Dogwood Stable, was $10.40 to show.
Backtalk was followed by Westover, Grand Slam Andre, Overlap, Liston, One Note Samba, Flatter Than Me, Enumerate and Prince Rooney, who took up on the turn in traffic. Not Macho Any More scratched.