Silverfoot, ridden by Mark Guidry, shot between horses in the final sixteenth to gain the lead in the final strides and edge clear for a neck victory over Ramazutti in the 69th running of the $108,400 grade III Louisville Handicap for three-year-olds and up, the Memorial Day feature race at Churchill Downs.The win was the first in three starts this year for Silverfoot, but marked the third consecutive win in the Louisville for Silverfoot as he covered the 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:16.90 and paid $4, $2.80 and $2.20. Ramazutti, with Calvin Borel aboard, gained the lead before the quarter mile and led into deep stretch before he gave way and returned $6.20 and $4. Quest Star tracked the pace throughout, but finished another three-quarters of length back under Robby Albarado and paid $2.80. The victory enabled Silverfoot to match the longest win streak in the history of the Louisville Handicap, which was first run at Churchill Downs in 1895. The 6-year-old gelding equaled the record for consecutive victories in the race set by the late Thomas Mueller's Chorwon, who earned his "three-peat" in the Louisville with wins from 1997-99. The victory also maintained a perfect record for Silverfoot in five races at Churchill Downs. He scored his first career victory in a maiden race for $30,000 claiming horses in late 2003 and launched his four-race winning streak on the grass the following year. Trained by Dallas Stewart, the gray son of With Approval earned $66,537 for the victory to send his career earnings to $672,282. The victory improved his career record to 9-1-2 in 20 outings. "It's just a great, great thing with a horse like this that's just gotten better," said Stewart. "We were looking at the time from last year and it looks like he ran two seconds faster this year than last year. It just says everything about him. He's such a nice horse and a tough campaigner."Ramazutti gained the lead just before the quarter and was stalked by Quest Star as he took the field through a conservative pace of 26.04 for the quarter, 50.96 for the half-mile and l:16.28 for the three quarters of a mile. Guidry placed Silverfoot in fourth along the hedge and followed the leaders until deep stretch. Silverfoot lacked running room through much of the stretch, but Guidry was able guide him past Quest Star and the late-running Watershed Event in the final eighth of a mile, and veered off the hedge to take aim on Ramazutti and Borel. Once clear, Silverfoot quickened and closed determinedly to gain the advantage in the final strides as Ramazutti held well to finish second best. "I knew I had a lot of pony at the three-eighths pole, but the two front horses (Ramzutti and Quest Star) picked it up a lot," said Guidry. "But when I pulled the trigger on my horse, he was extremely strong. His acceleration was unbelievable.""He ran awesome," said Borel of Ramzutti. "They ran slow enough early. He just got outrun, that's it. No excuses."
Stewart said that the ultimate goal on the year for Silverfoot would be the $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), which will be run over the veteran gelding's home track at Churchill Downs when the Breeders' Cup World Championships return to the track for a record sixth time on Nov. 4. Silverfoot ran sixth in last year's renewal of the Turf, which was won by Shirocco at Belmont Park.The stakes victories earned by Guidry and Stewart in the Louisville Handicap were their 12th and 10th, respectively, at Churchill Downs. The trainer-jockey duo teamed earlier in the meet to win the 132nd running of the grade I, $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks with Lemons Forever.(Chart, Equibase)