PHOENIX STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 3 | 6 FURLONGS
Sum of the Parts popped the gate and never looked back en route to a repeat victory in the $200,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes, posting his first win of the season on the opening day of 2013 Keeneland fall meet Oct. 4.
Ridden by Leandro Goncalves, the 12-1 upsetter defeated Laugh Track by 1 ¼ lengths to become the first repeat winner of the Phoenix since Zuppardo's Prince in 1980-81. He is just the sixth two-time victor in the history of the oldest stakes race in America, which dates back to 1853.
Four-year-old Sum of the Parts, a son of Speightstown out of the Slew's Royalty mare Enjoy the Moment, races for Seth Klarman's Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence, and is trained by Tom Amoss. Farfellow Farms bred the dark bay colt in Kentucky.
The victory guarantees a starting slot in the $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. Sum of the Parts used last year's Phoenix as a springboard to the BC Sprint, finishing fourth after battling on the lead on a fast pace and eventually losing by three lengths to Trinniberg.
Beating back a challenge from Go Blue Or Go Home approaching mid-stretch, Sum of the Parts was timed in 1:09.56 for six furlongs on Polytrack. Laugh Track, ridden by Miguel Mena, closed willingly to pip Go Home Or Go Blue for second by a head at the wire, with 2-1 favorite Gentlemen's Bet a half-length farther back fourth in the field of 12.
The win snapped a four-race losing streak for Sum of the Parts, who was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Karl Boyes Memorial Stakes June 10 at Presque Isle Downs.
"I made a grave error with him last spring: I brought him back too quick and tried to do too much with him before I ran him, and it cost me," Amoss said. "That's how training goes. When you make those kinds of mistakes, you're going to have to sit and wait, which is what we did and he came back really good this spring. I told the Group 1 was with, 'This the most athletic horse I've trained. He's the quickest horse I've ever trained out of the gate.' He really showed that today. All the credit goes to the horse."
Amoss said he was unsure of whether a return trip to the BC Sprint is in order.
"I have to talk to the owners about that, but if it's my vote and my vote alone, it's on to California," he said.
Breaking from post 11, Sum of the Parts left the gate smartly and led Jasizzle by about 1 ½ lengths after an opening quarter mile of :22.51 seconds while angling over to the rail, with Go Blue Or Go Home a stalking third on their outside. Sum of the Parts reached the quarter pole in :45.57 about a length in front of Go Blue Or Go Home who took over the second slot as Jasizzle backed out early. Gentlemen's Bet also advanced into contention on the turn.
"He's very fast, he's very sharp coming out of the gate," Goncalves noted. "By the first jump, second jump, I was already clear of everybody else so I just dropped in and got him to relax. That was the plan and it worked out pretty good today."
Sum of the Parts was under heavy pressure from Go Blue Or Go Home in the stretch but responded to urging from Goncalves to take command at the eighth pole, finishing comfortably as Laugh Track arrived late to get the place spot.
Earning $120,000 for his sixth victory in 15 lifetime starts, Sum of the Parts boosted his career earnings to $716,543.
The winner, who took last year's Phoenix by an identical 1 ¼ lengths, paid $27.20, $12.60, and $6.80 while carrying 120 pounds. Laugh Track, off at 10-1 odds, returned $10.80, while 6-1 Go Blue Or Go Home paid $5.40. The exacta was worth $301.80 and the trifecta $1,932.60.
The concern coming in for Gentlemen's Bet was how he would handle the Polytrack.
"He really struggled, I mean a lot," said Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. "He's supposed to be a length in front and if not in front at least just right there. I was pushing to stay where I was at. I finally got him running a little bit but he just really didn't like it, pulled up just really blowing."
Gentleman's Bet, favored off a third-place finish in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap Aug. 4 at Saratoga Race Course, was followed by Occasional View, Marchman, Laurie's Rocket, Reload, Hoofit, Winning Cause, Ghost Is Clear, and Jasizzle. Console, Global Power, and Hogy were scratched