Stately Victor stunned the field yesterday at the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes in Lexington, Ky., surging to the front in the stretch then pulling away to beat Paddy O’Prado by 4 1/4 lengths and secure an unlikely spot in next month’s Kentucky Derby.
The 3-year-old bay colt went off at 40-1 odds, the longest shot in the nine-horse field filled with Derby hopefuls. He didn’t look like an underdog as he recovered from a slow start to win the 1 1/8-mile race at Keeneland and collect the $450,000 winner’s check.
Stately Victor was a late add to the field for trainer Mike Maker, but hardly raced like an afterthought as he roared by his more accomplished competition. He paid $82.20, $30.40, and $12.80, the largest winning payoff in 86 editions of the race.
Paddy O’Prado and jockey Kent Desormeaux appeared to have things under control in the stretch before fading and paid $6 and $4.40. First Dude, with Ramon Dominguez up, paid $6.40 to show.
The race was supposed to be the last shot for Derby prospects Interactif, Odysseus, and Pleasant Prince to earn enough money to secure a spot in the Run for the Roses.
Although Interactif is almost guaranteed a spot in the Derby based on his graded stakes earnings, it now looks like Odysseus and Pleasant Prince — seemingly locks a few weeks ago — will need help to run May 1. Paddy O’Prado’s second-place finish likely earned him a spot in the Derby, too.
Stately Victor wasn’t even entered into the race until Wednesday, only moments before the post draw. He started third from the rail and bumped into First Dude at the start.
Jockey Alan Garcia and Stately Victor slogged their way through the opening half-mile and remained sixth at the quarter pole before the horse found a gear he’d never shown during his largely forgettable career.
Arkansas Derby — Line of David won the $1 million race by a neck at Oaklawn Park, propelling the 17-1 long shot into Derby consideration after his first race on dirt.
Line of David had never before run in a stakes race and his last two victories were on the turf. Line of David ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.37 and paid $36.60, $14.80, and $6.80.
Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Super Saver was second with Dublin another neck back in third for D. Wayne Lukas.
Uh Oh Bango was fourth, followed by 8-5 favorite Noble’s Promise, who finished out of the money for the first time in eight career starts.