KING'S BISHOP STAKES | PURSE: $500,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 1 | 7 FURLONGS
Capo Bastone, a colt that had long failed to tap his potential, finally displayed his talent with a roaring finish to capture the $500,000 Foxwoods King's Bishop Stakes going away at odds of 28-1 Aug. 24 at Saratoga Race Course.
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Capo Bastone delivered his first stakes victory for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. Capo Bastone found a seam between horses while racing near the rear of the 14-horse calvary charge in upper stretch and fired straight through down the lane to stun the Saratoga crowd with a two-length tally.
Mentor Cane, who had opened up a four-length advantage on the pack mid-stretch and looked a certain winner, settled for second, with Central Banker third. Forty Tales, the 5-2 favorite in the field of 3-year-olds, finished fourth.
The final time for the seven furlongs was a good 1:22.22 on a fast track.
Capo Bastone was one of three starters for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also saddled Forty Tales and Overanalyze, who finished fifth.
Bred in Kentucky by Hargus and Sandra Sexton, Tom Bozarth, and Silver Fern Farm, Capo Bastone is by Street Boss out of the Fit to Fight mare Fight to Love.
The winner paid $58.50, $25.80, and $12.40, topping a $759 exacta with Mentor Cane, who returned $10.80 and $8 at odds of nearly 8-1. Central Banker, off at 22-1, paid $14.20 to show and rounded out a $2 trifecta worth $16,639.
Capo Bastone was coming off a seventh-place finish in the Woody Stephens Stakes June 8 but had been working solidly at Saratoga since late July. The chestnut was well-regarded as a 2-year-old, finishing third in the Frontrunner Stakes and Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile while trained by John Sadler.
Transferred to Pletcher for the 2013 campaign, he won his first start of the season, an allowance/optional claiming race on a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park Feb. 16. Following a ninth-place finish on Polytrack in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, he turned in a big effort to finish second by a neck to Forty Tales in the one-mile Derby Trial April 27 at Churchill Downs.
"He has shown, on his good days, that he's good enough to compete in a race like this," said Pletcher, who previously won the King's Bishop in 2010 with Discreetly Mine . "He was pretty close to Forty Tales in the Derby Trial, and it seemed like he was training better than ever. Based off his breeze with Verrazano [a half-mile move in :48 3/5 Aug. 18], we felt like it was time to take a shot.
"It seemed like everything was gelling at the right time, and he was sitting on a good one, so we felt like, 'Let's try a big one.' It seems like he has found his niche. I think he gets a mile, no problem, but this was a good set-up for him today."
Capo Bastone had no early speed in the King's Bishop, racing 11th along the inside before shifting three-wide on the turn for home. Let Em Shine hustled to the front from the outside to lead Mentor Cane by half a length while running the opening quarter-mile in a swift :22.34. Edgar Prado on Mentor Cane drew even with the leader to take a narrow lead after a half-mile in :44.60 and dashed away from the others in upper stretch.
But Capo Bastone, rallying under right-handed urging from Ortiz, closed with an eye-catching rush to take over leaving the sixteenth pole en route to an impressive score.
"I had a good trip on the outside all the way," said Ortiz. "When I asked him, he picked it up, and he did the job. He was ready today."
A $175,000 2-year-old buy at the 2012 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March sale, Capo Bastone improved to 3-1-2 in nine starts. He earned $300,000 for the King's Bishop triumph, boosting his career bankroll to $659,608.
Mentor Cane finished 2 ¾ lengths clear of Central Banker, who rallied belatedly for Robby Albarado to edge Forty Tales by a neck for the show spot. Overanalyze was followed by Slan Abhaile, Salutos Amigos, Miraculousmo, No Distinction, Bad Hombre, Integrity, and Let Em Shine. Declan's Warrior trailed the field for a quarter-mile and was eased, but walked off the course.