It was a long time between stakes wins for Olympia Star's Applicator, but the 4-year-old Henrythenavigator gelding fired his best shot Sept. 6 to defeat a quality field in the $400,000 Tourist Mile Stakes at Kentucky Downs.
Off at 13-1 in the eight-horse field, the gelding trained and bred by Mikhail Yanakov stalked the early pace under jockey Jose Valdivia Jr., pulled alongside leader Western Reserve in the wide Kentucky Downs turn, and dueled that rival to the wire in the long stretch run.
Applicator began to move away from Western Reserve in the final furlong, then held off a late closing bid from Flatlined (one of four graded winners in the field) to win by a length in a final time of 1:44.79 on turf rated good.
"He gathered himself up at the head of the lane and he was strong through the lane," Valdivia said of Applicator's first victory since the Gleaming Stakes at Gulfstream Park in May of 2016. "I didn't know if it was going to be enough, because the ground is very forgiving, but he had enough left. And I liked the fact that, when he made the lead, he threw his ears up, so I knew I had some animal underneath me."
Western Reserve set a contested pace under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan while pressured early on by 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) winner Hootenanny and grade 1-placed Shining Copper to run fractions of :26.02 and :50.62 through a half-mile. Applicator moved a half-length in front through six furlongs in 1:16.94, but Western Reserve battled back to cut the deficit to a head with a furlong to run before he tired to finish fifth, a nose behind favored Red Bank Stakes (G3T) winner Irish Straight.
A race later Snapper Sinclair impressively stalked and pounced under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. to take the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over John Tippmann. After the race, trainer Steve Asmussen said he will seek a longer test than the seven-furlong race at Kentucky Downs, to see if Bloom Racing Stable's City Zip colt might be a fit for a run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T).
After an underwhelming sixth-place debut effort on the dirt at Belmont Park in July, Asmussen put Snapper Sinclair on the grass second time out and he impressively won a maiden special weight sprint at Saratoga Race Course by four lengths.
Other stakes winners on the opening-day card at Kentucky Downs were Stuart Janney III's 4-year-old My Impression, who won the $150,000 One Dreamer Stakes.
My Impression, a grade 3-winning Sky Mesa filly trained by Shug McGaughey, took the $150,000 One Dreamer Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths going one mile and 70 yards under jockey Tyler Gaffalione.
For the People's Ultima D, trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by Julio Garcia, took the $350,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies Stakes by the same margin. The daughter of Scat Daddy led at every call of the seven-furlong distance to earn her first win.