CHURCHILL DOWNS STAKES | PURSE: $400,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 2 | 7 FURLONGS
Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Central Banker, one-for-one at Churchill Downs heading into the $400,000 Churchill Downs Stakes, made it two-for-two with an off-the-pace upset victory in the seven-furlong test May 3.
Trained by Al Stall Jr. and ridden by Corey Nakatani, Central Banker, at 10-1, broke well from post 9 to be in early contention with Delaunay and Falling Sky. He was taken back soon after and rated three-wide in a tight pack of six past an opening quarter-mile in :22.29 and a half-mile in :44.69 on fast track.
Nakatani roused the 4-year-old Speightstown colt on the far turn, and he responded well to hook the leader, Delaunay, nearing the top of the stretch. After six furlongs in a quick 1:08.71, Central Banker disposed of Delaunay and held off a determined bid by Shakin It Up to defeat that foe by a head in a sharp 1:21.15, less than one second off the track record set by champion Groupie Doll in 2012.
Clearly Now, who also made a move on the far turn, checked in third, 1 3/4 lengths behind Strike It Up. Broadway Empire, never far back, finished evenly for fourth 1 1/2 lengths behind Clearly Now. Favored Sahara Sky was unplaced.
Central Banker paid $23.60, $10.20, and 7.20 across the board in the 11-horse field. Shakin It Up returned $6.20 and $4, while Clearly Now was worth $4.60 to show. The $2 exacta paid $124.60 and the $2 trifecta $638.80.
Central Banker, out of the Go for Gin mare Rhum, was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm. In the fourth start of his career, he impressively won an entry-level test on the dirt at Churchill in October 2012.
In late December 2013, Stall shipped Central Banker to California, where he finished a half-length behind victorious Shakin It Up in the grade I Malibu Stakes. In his 2014 debut April 5 at Aqueduct Racetrack, Central Banker finished a dull sixth in the seven-furlong Carter Handicap; Sahara Sky and Clearly Now were among those that finished ahead of him that day.
Central Banker now has four wins, three seconds, and two thirds in 12 starts. The Churchill Downs Stakes victory pushed his earnings over the $500,000 mark.