James Scatuorchio and John Iracane’s Bittel Road came from the clouds and got the final jump on Driving Snow to take the $200,000 Woodford Reserve Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a head in thrilling fashion Oct. 5 on the Keeneland turf. The victory earned undefeated Bittel Road a berth in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
Bittel Road, sent off as the even-money favorite, broke well but was caught in traffic and shuffled towards the back of the field of 12 2-year-olds. Under patient handling from Rajiv Maragh, the son of Stormy Atlantic saved ground down the backstretch and still had a ton of ground to make up on the leaders. But after being angled wide into the stretch he gobbled up ground from the middle of the racetrack and set his sights on Driving Snow, who had taken the lead inside the sixteenth-pole under Robby Albarado. Bittel Road finally passed his rival in the final stride.
Maragh, who picked up the mount for injured John Velazquez, was aboard Bittel Road for the first time.
“That was an exceptional finish,” Maragh said. “I was at the back and I had like eight horses in front of me. He just kept passing them one by one until he got there.”
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Bittel Road covered the 1 1/16 miles on the ‘firm’ turf in 1:44.29. Driving Snow was 1 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Ninth Client. Vaquero was fourth.
Bittel Road is now undefeated in three starts. The dark bay colt broke his maiden on the Belmont turf July 11 and entered the Bourbon off a head victory in the $80,000 With Anticipation Stakes Aug. 29 at Saratoga.
Early on in the Bourbon, Ninth Client, Vaquero and Ghost Five were in a three-way duel for the lead. Ninth Client, with Julien Leparoux aboard, eventually wrestled the lead, cleared six furlongs in 1:13.01 and took a narrow advantage over Vaquero at the eighth-pole. But Driving Snow, who was tenth after six furlongs, was angled four-wide into the stretch and took command in mid-stretch. He looked to be clear to the wire but Bittel Road, seventh entering the stretch, came flying from the middle of the racetrack.
“This colt is one we liked all along,” Pletcher said. “He was able to break his maiden going three-quarters and go to the front doing that, and he overcame some adversity at Saratoga. So we knew he was a quality colt, but I thought today he was very, very good. We hope to go to the Breeders’ Cup if everything comes out well.”
Bittel Road paid $4, $3 and $2.80. The exacta (1-10) returned $27.60 and the trifecta (1-10-5) was worth $232.80.
Bred in Kentucky by Iracane, Bittel Road is out of the Sultry Song mare Sultry.