FRANKLIN, Ky. – Using an unusual style, Snapper Sinclair won the second division of the $400,000 TVG Stakes Wednesday to add to his already solid reputation as the ultimate horse for the course at Kentucky Downs.
The 6-year-old owned by Bloom Racing led from gate to wire under jockey Julien Leparoux to become the first horse to win three stakes at the track. In his lone losing performance at Kentucky Downs, he was second by three-quarters of a length in last year’s Tourist Mile (now the WinStar Mint Million).
In the first division of the TVG, In Love came from off the pace under Alex Achard to win by 2 ¼ lengths at 8-1.
Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, Snapper Sinclair paid $6. The son of City Zip trained by Steve Asmussen completed the mile and 70 yards in 1:40.24 and finished three-quarters of a length in front of Bob and Jackie.
“When the horse loves the track, it’s a big help and he obviously does,” Leparoux said. “He travels good on it. Going downhill or uphill he is very comfortable with it. It’s a big effort for us and I’m glad he won it today.”
Snapper Sinclair picked up his seventh win in 33 career starts and the first-place purse money of $239,320 pushed his career earnings to $1,793,250. While he has run well at other tracks during his career, all of his stakes victories have come at Kentucky Downs.
“He definitely has an affinity for Kentucky Downs,” said Jeff Bloom, president of Bloom Racing, which partners with Chuck and Lori Allen on many of their horses. “Clearly, this is a track that Snapper is very fond of and Snapper is horse we’re all fond of. He’s the coolest horse there is. He’s just the best.”
The horse was named for a jockey played by Mickey Rooney in the 1936 movie “Down the Stretch.”
The TVG was Snapper Sinclair’s fourth start of the season and first since finishing second in the G3 Opening Verse at Churchill Downs on April 29. He opened the season with an allowance victory at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 4 and turned in a solid fourth-place finish in the G2 Godolphin Mile on the Dubai World Cup program on March 27. He was beaten a neck and a nose for second.
“This is exactly where he needed to be,” Asmussen said. “He got a little bit of a break. I’m glad he was ready for Kentucky Downs. He definitely made us proud. He definitely shines here at Kentucky Downs. He’s been a very special horse, that’s even after making the trip over to (Dubai) this year. Just very proud for the Blooms and the Allens. Snapper has been very good to us for a long time.
“He ran beautifully today. He responds very well for Julien here, and very pleased to have him on him. Just a great victory celebration.”
Leparoux said the race did not play out the way he expected when Snapper Sinclair broke sharply and was quickly in front.
“I didn’t really want to be on the lead, to be honest, but he took me there very easy,” Leparoux said. “He was traveling very nice. He pointed his ears around the turn so I knew he was going to finish up good.”
With first Penalty and then Midnight Tea Time in pursuit in second, Snapper Sinclair set early fractions of 23.38 and 47.65 seconds. He had a one-length lead through six furlongs in 1:12.57.
Bloom, a former jockey, smiled as he described his reaction when Snapper Sinclair was setting the pace.
“He had been off a little bit, he was fresh, he broke so well and Julien said he was going so well, there was a change of plans,” Bloom said. “If you look at all of his races here at Kentucky Downs it’s different every time. With Snapper, put him out there and he’ll figure it out.”
Bob and Jackie, trained by Richard Baltas, hopped at the start and got away sixth in the field of nine. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez moved him into contention a couple of lengths behind Snapper Sinclair, but he could not overcome the handicap he gave himself in the long run through the stretch.
“I think it’s a race he could have won,” Velazquez said. “Broke slow, and that’s it. He ran a good race. (Snapper Sinclair) loves it here. And everything went his way, too. He loves the course and everything went his way.”
Lori Allen was surprised to learn that he was the first horse to win three stakes at the track.
“I had no idea. That’s awesome,” she said. “He should have a race named after him here. He loves this race. He came so close last year, he’s nearly a four-time winner. But he tries everywhere. Everywhere he goes, boy, he never lets us down. He puts it all down every time.”