El Kabeir Earns Ten Derby Trail Points in Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
El Kabeir Earns Ten Derby Trail Points in Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (Churchill Downs Press Release): New York invader El Kabeir, a 7-1 shot ridden by local hero and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel, led from the start and dug-in to hold-off late surges by Imperia and Eagle to score a narrow head victory in Saturday’s 88th running of the $233,000, Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs.
Owned by Zayat Stables LLC and trained by John Terranova, El Kabeir carried a two-length lead halfway through the homestretch and held on as the advantage was whittled in the final yards to turn back 10 rivals and earn the first stakes victory of his career. El Kabier covered the 1 1/16-mile distance over a fast track in 1:44.82 and returned $16.60, $7.40 and $5.60 for the victory.
Godolphin Racing’s Imperia, making his first race on dirt after three starts on grass, just missed under jockey Robby Albarado and paid $$4.60 and $3.20 as the runner-up. Eagle, who rallied strongly in the final eighth of a mile under Brian Hernandez Jr. and was beaten by less than a length by the winner in third, returned $5.60 to show.
The Kentucky Jockey Club was a “Prep Season” race on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” point system that will determine the 3-year-old Thoroughbreds that will participate in the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on May 2 at Churchill Downs. El Kabeir earned 10 points for the victory along with Imperia (4), Eagle (2) and fourth-place finisher International Star (1). Lord Nelson, the 7-5 favorite trained by Bob Baffert, bobbled at the start and never threatened on his way to a fifth-place
The victory was the fourth Kentucky Jockey Club victory for Borel, who scored back-to-back wins aboard eventual Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver in 2009 and Beethoven in 2008 after scoring his initial victory aboard Dollar Bill in 2000.
“At the finish I knew it was getting tight because he had never been this far and the track is a little heavy,” Borel said. “With everything put together it was a matter of who could out grind the other one.”
A gray/roan Florida-bred son of Scat Daddy, El Kabeir won for the second time in five races, but he had run well against highly-regarded New York-based 2-year-olds Daredevil in the Grade I Champagne at Belmont Park, where he finished fourth, and Blofeld in the Nashua (GII), where El Kabeir ran second, five lengths behind the winner. The Kentucky Jockey Club victory lifted El Kabeir’s career record to 2-1-1 in five races and the winner’s share of $135,792 boosted his earnings to $265,892.
El Kabeir and Borel sprung quickly from the starting gate and established a 2 1/2-length lead down the backstretch with Sky Hero and Lucky Player in closest pursuit through fractional times of :23.62 for the quarter mile, :47.50 for a half-mile and six furlongs in :1:12.48. Imperia, five-wide and settled in seventh on the run down the backstretch, and Eagle bided his time in the middle of the field. The favored Lord Nelson got a way last after his poor start and was far back early. El Kabeir disposed of Sky Hero and Lucky Player on the far turn as Imperia gathered steam and circled the field and Eagle, forced to check in traffic midway through the turn, got free and took aim on the leader. Borel and El Kabeir maintained a clear advantage through mid-stretch until late-charging Imperia and Eagle began to chip away at that margin through the final eighth of a mile, although neither could do enough to catch the winner.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was disappointed by the narrow loss by runner-up Imperia, but his first on dirt after three turf starts was a strong effort. McLaughlin said the Kentucky Jockey Club was run over the “important dirt”: the Churchill Downs main track over which the 141st Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands will be run on Saturday, May 2, 2015.
“One more jump and he had it, but he ran great and we’re tickled with the way he ran,” McLaughlin said. “We belong with the 3-year-olds moving forward to the first Saturday in May.”
International Star finished 5 3⁄4 lengths behind the top trio in fourth and 1 1⁄4 lengths in front of favorite Lord Nelson.Flashaway finished sixth and was followed by Lucky Player, Sky Hero, Majestico, War Point and Jumpin Frac Flash. Moonlight Bandit was scratched.
2015 Kentucky Derby Prep Schedule