Copper Bullet easily breaks his maiden at Churchill Downs

Copper Bullet easily breaks his maiden at Churchill Downs

Coady Photography

Copper Bullet Out to Build Reputation in Bashford Manor

Son of More Than Ready broke his maiden at Churchill Downs by eight lengths.

From a physical standpoint, Copper Bullet is already beyond his years. The juvenile son of More Than Ready  has the body and build of a 3-year-old topped off with a distinctive white blaze that jutted itself in front of rivals May 25 and didn't stop until it hit the line eight lengths in front.

Just how far ahead of the curve Copper Bullet is will get a litmus test June 30 when the bay colt breaks from post 5 in the six-horse field for the $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) on the closing night of the Churchill Downs spring/summer meeting. 

For those who believe it's never too early to start seeking out contenders for the first Saturday in May, Copper Bullet has generated some early hype. He came into hand quick enough that trainer Steve Asmussen ran him first out during the Keeneland spring meet, where he finished second at 4 1/2 furlongs April 26. And when he showed up beneath the Twin Spires a month and a day later, he ran off the screen during a gate-to-wire triumph going five furlongs in :57.56.

"He was pretty highly touted coming out of (Asmussen Horse Center) Laredo. He was one of the first ones to ship up and has always been pretty well thought of," said David Fiske, manager of Winchell Thoroughbreds, which owns Copper Bullet in partnership with Willis Horton. "He made a start at Keeneland, which might be the first 2-year-old we've run at Keeneland in the spring in at least a decade, maybe. 

"He's fast and he's as big as a 3-year-old. I've had more than one person tell me that when they see him up close, he reminds them of another horse Steve trained in (grade 1 winner) Regally Ready. We'll see how he does Friday and if he answers that question correctly, we'll find a harder question to ask him."

Purchased for $200,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale, Copper Bullet is one of a handful of babies Ron Winchell and Horton ended up partnering on after a couple of seasons trying to make some teamwork happen between the two owners. 

"It was something that just sort of developed organically," Fiske said of the partnership. "I think when (champions) Take Charge Brandi (for Horton) and Untapable (for Winchell) were running, someone from Mr. Horton's family got in touch with Ron and reached out and wanted to do something. ... and we never could agree on what to do, but they stayed in touch. Then the opportunity to partner on some yearlings last year popped up and, so far, everything is chugging along pretty good."

The Bashford Manor produced an Eclipse Award winner last season when Mark Casse-trained Classic Empire  took the test en route to his multiple grade 1-winning campaign that saw him unanimously voted the champion 2-year-old male of 2016. This Friday will see the Casse shedrow send out Mo Diddley in the six-furlong test to try and see if history will repeat itself.

Owned by Gary Barber and Cheyenne Stables, Mo Diddley has already drawn comparisons to his accomplished stablemate for showcasing both some quirks and raw ability in his maiden outing. When the son of Uncle Mo  debuted at Churchill May 18, he broke sharply to the outside out of the far post 7, ran out of the picture, rushed back up five-wide to join the leaders, and still managed to prevail by a head going 4 1/2 furlongs.

Mo Diddley has also been an impressive figure on the worktab, most recently breezing with older stakes horse Conquest Typhoon including a bullet five-furlong move in :59 2/5 at Churchill June 11. The dark bay colt will have Corey Lanerie in the irons Friday as Florent Geroux, who piloted him in his first outing, will be aboard Copper Bullet.

Friday's card will also feature the 117th running of the $100,000 Debutante Stakes, where Whispering Oaks LLC's promising juvenile filly She's a Julie headlines a field of 13 2-year-old fillies.

She's a Julie, a $160,000 yearling buy, impressively won her debut by 5 1/4 lengths May 26 at Churchill while clocking five furlongs in :58.68 under Geroux.

Entries: Bashford Manor S. (G3)

Churchill Downs, Friday, June 30, 2017, Race 6

  • Grade III
  • 6f
  • Dirt
  • $100,000
  • 2 yo
  • 8:30 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
11I'm Corfu (FL)Arienne Cox122Wayne W. Rice12/1
22Hardworkcleanlivin (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateChanning Hill120Danny Pish6/1
33Mo Diddley (NY)Corey J. Lanerie120Mark E. Casse5/2
44Fig Jelly (KY)Sophie Doyle122Wayne W. Rice12/1
55Copper Bullet (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlorent Geroux120Steven M. Asmussen8/5
66Ten City (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRobby Albarado120Kenneth G. McPeek2/1