(Edited Churchill Downs report)
Glen Hill Farm’s homebred Closeout coasted to a three-length victory over Gloria Goodbody to win the 28th running of the $114,900 Locust Grove Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) to close out the 45-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Tom Proctor, who was winning the Locust Grove for the second time, Closeout covered the mile on a Matt Winn Turf Course labeled as “yielding” in 1:38.38. The victory was worth $71,238 and increased Closeout’s earnings to $310,671 for her fifth victory in 10 starts. Proctor’s other Locust Grove win came in 2006 with Rich In Spirit for Glen Hill Farm. The winning 4-year-old filly is a daughter of Repriced.
Ridden by Robby Albarado, Closeout was content to trail the field early as Tensas Yucatan cut out fractions of :23.84 and :47.99 with Zee Zee and Stealin' Kisses in closest pursuit through the first half-mile
Approaching the far turn, Albarado began to move after the leaders and turning into the stretch Closeout moved four wide to quickly collar Stealin’ Kisses, who had taken a brief lead. Closeout opened a daylight advantage and was never threatened in the run to the wire.
Closeout, who shared the starting high weight of 116 pounds with two others, returned $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10. Gloria Goodbody paid $4.40 and $3 in finishing two lengths ahead of Stealin’ Kisses, who paid $4.20 to show under Tony Farina. Completing the field in order were Zee Zee and Tensas Yucatan. The field was reduced to five when Leamington, Tizaqueena and Namaste’s Wish were scratched.
“She was a little rank early so I just rode her very patiently," Albarado said. "We had an honest pace up front and she showed a lot of confidence when she tugged on me at the three-eighths pole. It was just a matter of her staying on her feet and getting over the soft going. It was a Cadillac ride so I didn’t have to do much on her. I’m not going to take credit for this one. Give all the credit to the barn and everyone that did all the hard work. I was just a passenger.”
Jockey Julien Leparoux rode 62 winners in the meet to edge Calvin Borel, who finished with 61. The leading rider title was the third spring crown for Leparoux and fifth overall.
Steve Asmussen saddled 29 winners to claim his third spring leading trainer title and sixth overall. Ken and Sarah Ramsey won their record eighth spring leading owners title and 15th overall by notching 18 winners.