One month ago Mike Maker took a chance there was still life left in Hogy's 8-year-old legs. On Sept. 9, the $80,000 the trainer laid out for the veteran Offlee Wild gelding officially became a savvy bargain buy.
Hogy added to his indefatigable reputation Saturday when he reeled in Commend by a half-length in late stretch to win the $400,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint Stakes (G3T)—his first graded score since 2013.
Since he began his career with trainer Joel Berndt in June of 2011, Hogy has always kept himself in good company. He knocked heads with the likes of two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan and grade 1 winner Silver Max when he finished eighth in the 2013 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (G1T), bested multiple graded winner Mister Marti Gras in the 2013 Hanshin Cup Stakes (G3), and came within a half-length of defeating Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) winner Mongolian Saturday in the 2016 Woodford Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G3T).
That back class wasn't lost on Maker and owner Michael Hui when they claimed Hogy Aug. 3 out of a 5 1/2 furlong turf test at Saratoga Race Course. In his first outing for those new connections, the dark bay gelding rated eighth, then seventh, as Indy Hill took the 10-horse field through fractions of :23.87 and :48.37 in the 6 1/2-furlong Turf Sprint before he swept by his competition on the far outside.
Commend held for second after he briefly took command in the stretch, while group 1 winner Undrafted ran on late to get third.
With Florent Geroux in the irons, Hogy covered the distance in 1:16.88 to earn his 17th win from 45 starts. He made himself a millionaire with earnings of $1,131,927, and has finished in the top three in 10 of his last 11 starts. He earned a stakes win earlier this year, when he took the Feb. 25 Colonel Power Overnight Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Bred in Kentucky by Dr. John Little out of the Petionville mare Floy, Hogy was purchased for $17,000 by Halvorson Bloodstock out of the 2010 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale. He finished second in last year's edition of the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint.
Earlier on the card, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's homebred Lull reinforced her affinity for Kentucky Downs when she drew off for a two-length victory over Happy Mesa in the $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes going 6 1/2 furlongs.
The 3-year-old daughter of War Front halted a five-race losing skid, begun after her win in the Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Kentucky Downs last year.
"I think War Fronts like to hear their feet rattle, and this turf probably suits her really well," said Dell Hancock of Claiborne Farm. "I asked Craig Fravel (president of the Breeders' Cup) when they're going to run the Breeders' Cup here."
Sent off at 3-1 odds under Brian Hernandez Jr., Lull tracked along in third on an inside path behind fractions of :23.58 and :48.15 set by pacesetter Corby before she tipped out to engage the leaders in the lane. She hit the wire in 1:17.22 to improve her record to three wins from nine starts with $598,057 in earnings.