Tommie Lewis' Ten City and Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing's Copper Bullet were by far the best two colts in the six-furlong test, but one had a clear outside path and the other went on his own adventure.
All that matters is who crosses the wire first, however, and that accomplishment went to Ten City, who came in 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Copper Bullet. The son of Run Away and Hide took command late in the turn, after I'm Corfu led early with an opening quarter-mile fraction of :21.97, and finished off the distance in 1:10.45.
The two favorites broke alongside each other, with Ten City on the outside in post 6 and Copper Bullet in post 5, and both found themselves off the pace early. But Copper Bullet and jockey Florent Geroux wouldn't let that stand for long. The More Than Ready colt rushed up on the inside in the backstretch to engage in a duel with I'm Corfu, dropped away from the frontrunner mid-turn to angle off the rail, and attemped to re-rally as Ten City moved by on the outside, but could never close the gap on the eventual winner.
"It was just a tough trip," Geroux said. "He worked his way up there on the inside and there was a lot of stuff going on in very a short field. He ran great. He was probably the best today, but the trip didn't help."
Ten City, trained by Kenny McPeek, raced in fourth as the field entered the turn before he made his move under jockey Robby Albarado. He showed a different dimension than his seven-length debut win April 19 at Keeneland, where he contested the early pace.
"He ran well today," Albarado said. "He was there when I needed him and he outran a big, nice horse today. You'll see these two later up the road."
Ten City was a $12,000 purchase by McPeek at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale in 2016.
"That's my job—to pluck one out of there ... and this horse has a lot of talent," McPeek said.
The winner paid $3.00, $2.10, and $2.10 across the board, while Copper Bullet returned $2.20 and $2.10 for second.
Bred in Kentucky by Phillips Racing Partnership, out of the Rock Hard Ten mare Maiden America, Ten City now has two wins in as many starts and earnings of $98,000, but McPeek can't help but think about the future.
"As far as the future with this horse, I'm really dying to see him run long," the trainer said. "I think we need not to focus too much on the sprinting. There's a very good chance I'll just park him right here in Kentucky and wait for the (Iroquois Stakes, G3) here at Churchill in September."