Einstein stormed past heavy favorite Commentator at the top of the stretch and then held off longshot Delightful Kiss to win the Nov. 28, $440,400 Clark Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) at Churchill Downs by 1 1/2 lengths.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux, who earlier on the card set a record for most wins during a Churchill Downs fall meet, Einstein completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.79. The winner paid $11.80, $5.20, and $2.60. Delightful Kiss, ridden by Calvin Borel, paid $10.80 and $3.80. Commentator, the 1-5 favorite, was third under jockey John Velazquez and paid $2.10. Magna Graduate, running his final race for trainer Steve Asmussen, finished fourth, followed by Wayzata Bay, Dominican, and Anak Nakal.
Commentator, carrying high weight of 124 pounds, led the field of seven through early fractions of :24.57, :48.58, and 1:12.64 with Einstein, toting 119 pounds, as his closest pursuer. Leparoux moved Einstein to the outside of Commentator at the top of the stretch, dueling on even terms for a sixteenth of a mile before beginning to draw clear.
The victory was the first for Einstein since the 6-year-old horse took the grade I Woodford ReserveTurf Classic at Churchill Downs at 1 1/8 miles on grass May 3 for trainer Helen Pitts. That was followed by a second to Horse of the Year Curlin in Churchill Downs' Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) on the main track and a runner-up effort in Churchill's Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) on grass. Previous to the Clark, Einstein was fifth in the Arlington Million (gr. IT).
“I knew I had to stay close to Commentator and he broke sharp," the winning jockey said. "I just kind of eased up a little bit on the outside. I just ran behind him all the way. When I asked him, he stuck his head in front of him and we were gone. It was done.”
“To be able to win a stake like that means the world to me, but to get a graded stake on the dirt for him is super. It was kind of my main objective coming in here," Pitts said. "He was second in a grade I in the Stephen Foster. But to win a graded stake on the dirt for him, he deserves it more than anybody out there because I’ve never had a horse that loves his job and loves to train and loves to run as much as he does. When he turned for home, I knew he’d dig deep down inside to find all he could to get there. He’s a very special horse.”
Commentator's 1-5 favoritism was the result of a 4 3/4-length victory in the grade I Whitney Handicap and a 14-length romp in the Massachusetts Handicap.
Leparoux earlier eclipsed Pat Day's previous fall meet record of 55 wins and he then padded his meet-leading numbers with five victories, ending the day with 59 wins.
A Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck who races in the colors of court-appointed owner Matthew Garretson, Einstein has won nine of 22 starts and earned $1,634,019.
Two races before the Clark Handicap, 2008 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Da’ Tara finished third in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claiming race.