Lunarpal Wins Bashford Manor Duel; Remains Undefeated

Edited from Churchill Downs reports
Lunarpal, ridden by Shane Sellers, remained unbeaten in four starts as he survived a race-long duel with Storm Surge to prevail by a neck in Monday's 103rd running of the $163,200 Bashford Manor (grade III) for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The Florida-bred son of Successful Appeal  became only the second horse to sweep Churchill Downs' three-race series of spring meet stakes races for 2-year-olds that includes the Three Chimneys Juvenile, the Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III) and the Bashford Manor. Lunarpal covered the six furlongs in 1:11.54 over a "sloppy" track and paid $4.20, $3.00 and $2.80 as the even-money favorite. Storm Surge, with Robby Albarado up, paid $9.40 and $6.80. Maximus C, with Craig Perret in the irons, tracked the top pair throughout but finished 1 1/4-lengths back in third and paid $4.20.

Owned and bred by the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Lunarpal earned $101,184 to run his career bankroll to $284,177. The only previous horse to sweep Churchill Downs' three stakes races for 2-year-olds was Favorite Trick, who won those races in 1997 during the early stages of an unbeaten campaign for which he was named champion 2-year-old and Horse of the Year.

"For him to a equal feat that was only accomplished by Favorite Trick the year he was 'Horse of the Year' is quite significant," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "For him to win all three races at the meet under different conditions -- I couldn't be prouder of him."

LunarpalĀs victory also secured Asmussen's first spring meet training title at Churchill Downs, where he won 35 races during 53 days of racing. The Bashford Manor was Asmussen's fourth stakes win of the meet -- including three by Lunarpal -- and jockey Shane Sellers was aboard for all of them.

"He's unbeaten and every time he steps up to the plate he answers the call," Sellers said of Lunarpal. "I think that maybe the distance will be the question for him -- how far he'll go. But if Steve finds the right distance for him, he's going to be awful tough to beat."

(Chart, Equibase)