The undefeated Estate Collection, making his stakes debut, set a lively pace for jockey Patrick Valenzuela in the Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Turfway Park Saturday but refused to give in late, winning by three-quarters of a length over 23-1 Humor At Last.
Breaking from the outside post in the field of seven, Valenzuela made all the running on Estate Collection while racing off the inside, completing the six-furlong event in 1:09 3/5. Estate Collection set fractions of :22 and :45 3/5 while maintaining at least a one-length lead until the final strides.
The Souvenir Copy
gelding, in his third career start, tallied at odds of 9-5 for Southern California-based trainer Doug O'Neill, who purchased the dark bay privately for Suarez Racing. Estate Collection was claimed out of his first race Aug. 12, a victory, for $40,000 at Del Mar by trainer Chuck Peery. In between, the gelding won a starter allowance race over six furlongs at Del Mar by five lengths in 1:08 4/5. Saturday's win was worth $62,000 to his new connections.
"We got Pablo (Suarez)to pay a good bit of money for this son of Souvenir Copy, and it's paying off," said Dennis O'Neill, who saddled the winner for her brother.
Going Wild, John McKee aboard, finished third, 3 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up Humor At Last, who was ridden by Larry Sterling. Vicarage, the slight 9-5 favorite over Estate Collection, finished fourth, 5 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
"When my horse broke, he broke really strong, but he was so nervous, he never got settled," said Rafael Bejarano, who rode Vicarage.
Estate Collection paid $5.60, $4.80, and $3.80. Humor At Last returned $14.60 and $5. Going Wild was $5.40 to show.
"He ran a great race," said Valenzuela of the winner. "He's a perfect three for three and getting better and better. Pablo and Doug have been big supporters of me, and it's so nice to win one like this for them."
After Vicarage, it was Storm Surge, Go for Aly, and Lunarpal - who made his first start in more than 13 months.
John C. Mabee bred Estate Collection, who was produced by the General Meeting mare Mother's Meeting, in Kentucky.