In his third try, the Helen Pitts-trained Einstein went to the head of the class in the $548,300 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) (VIDEO) May 3 at Churchill Downs.
“He’s very versatile," Pitts said. "You can run him short, and you can run him long. He adjusts to pace, no pace. Whatever the situation is, he deals with it. He’s the love of my life.”
The 2-1 favorite, Einstein, owned by Patricia Cunningham and Melissa Greene and ridden by Robby Albarado, had to re-rally in the stretch after falling back a bit headed to the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile test. He opened up by two lengths at the eighth pole and was in control with a measured one-length victory over Out of Control.
For his effort, which earned his connections $333,149, the multiple grade I winner Einstein went over the $1 million mark in career earnings.
“This year he’s just double game," Albarado said of Einstein, who won the Gulfstream Park Turf (gr. IT) in February. "He’s doing things easy. He’s willing and able out there. He wants to be close to the pace and get them that way rather than coming in the backdoor. He’s giving himself a better chance to do well. When (Out of Control) came to him today, he just dug back in.”
Einstein laid just off the pace set by Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song, who led the field through fractions of :24.68 for the quarter mile, :49.13 for the half, and 1:12.97 for three quarters. The final time for the race on the good turf course was 1:50.50.
Duveen took over the lead as the field began to make the turn toward home. Einstein went for an early move with Duveen but dropped back. When he came on again, Duveen was no match. Stud TNT’s Out of Control put up a serious challenge to finish second for Garrett Gomez.
“He traveled well as long as he was up underneath the hold" Gomez said of Out of Control. "But as soon I needed him to really go ahead and sprint for home, ground was just soft enough that it got away from him," Gomez said.
David Heerensperger’s Artiste Royal, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, launched a wide late bid to take third.
Einstein and the Irish-bred Artiste Royal each carried high weight of 124 pounds.
"The Arlington Million (Aug. 9) would be an ultimate goal, but I think he needs a break now for him to be ready and on top of his game by the Arlington Million, whether it’s one race from now or two races from now," Pitts said. "We’ll see how he comes out of it. He’s one that loves the game."
A son of Spend a Buck out of the Ghadeer mare Gay Charm, Einstein was bred in Brazil by Fazenda Mondesir. He ran fourth in the Turf Classic in 2006 and finished seventh in the race last year.
Coming off a second-place finish in the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland April 11, Einstein won for the eighth time in 18 starts while boosting his bankroll to $1,107,931.
Einstein returned $6.40, $3.80, and $2.80. Out of Control, also bred in Brazil and now part of the Bobby Frankel stable, paid $4.80 and $3.40. Artiste Royal, from the Neil Drysdale barn, was $3.60 to show. The exacta paid $26.60 and the trifecta paid $102.40.