Ascertain Finds Answer in Closing Day Elkhorn Win

Ascertain Finds Answer in Closing Day Elkhorn Win
Photo: Emily Cathcart
Ascertain gets final decision of Keeneland meet in Elkhorn Stakes win.
(from Keeneland release)
Ascertain outlasted fast-closing Always First by a diminishing neck to win the $200,000 Fifth Third Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIIT) {VIDEO} Friday as Keeneland closed its 15-day spring meeting.

Jockey Jamie Theriot kept the 6-year-old son of Intikhab within striking distance of pacesetter Transduction Gold and then urged his mount into the lead approaching the top of the stretch of the 12-furlong event for older horses.

“He broke well, settled real good for me,” said Theriot, who scored his first stakes win at Keeneland. “When I called on him at the quarter pole, he was full of run for me.”

Always First closed fast under Garrett Gomez but his rally fell short. It was three-quarters of a length back to third-place Drilling for Oil, with Robby Albarado aboard. The time was 2:30.40 on the "good" turf.

Jazil, last year’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, trying the turf for the first time in the Elkhorn, never threatened under jockey Fernando Jara and finished last in the 12-horse field.

“It’s a shame that his first time on turf, the turf was yielding and since it was the last day of the meet it was pretty chewed up,” said trainer Kiarin McLaughlin. “But he just didn’t run well. This was an experiment. If he’d liked it, it would have given us more options. But we’ll probably go back to the dirt.”

Cloudy's Knight, the 5-2 choice ridden by Julien Leparoux, the meet's leading rider, finished fifth, a neck behind fourth-place finisher Transduction Gold. Ramazutti, Pellegrino, Hard Deck, Spider Power, Bee Charmer, Last Answer and Jazil completed the order.

Ascertain improved his record to seven wins in 23 starts and increased his career earnings to $374,232 for owners Mrs. S.K. Johnston, Jr., Gene Voss and Paul Dixon.  Niall O’Callaghan trains the winner, who earned $124,000 Friday.

“He’s had some layoffs in his life,” said O’Callaghan. “He’s had some problems over the years but he’s never been better. Hopefully, we go to the Manhattan (gr. IT) next and we’ll have to teach Jamie how not to be so shy in New York.” 

Ascertain paid $17.20, $9 and $6.20.  Always First returned $7.60 and $5.60 and Drilling for Oil, ridden by Robby Albarado, returned $10.

(Chart, Equibase)

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