It was the first stakes win for Grand Daddy, a 6-year-old son of Johannesburg and a full brother to dual Grade 1 winner Scat Daddy. While he had been a consistent performer in his previous 21 races, winning seven and placing in six others, Grand Daddy had not yet stepped up. He had finished second in this race two years ago and fourth last year, but trainer Tom Drury Jr. believed this was the time.
Grand Daddy had gotten a four-month break last year from July to November, when he came back to finish second in a claiming event at Churchill Downs. He won his second start back, an optional claiming race at Turfway a month ago.
“We freshened him up over the summer, and I knew he was going to need the Churchill race. He really came running that day. Then we ran him back here, and he won by just a couple of lengths, but if you watch it, he gets away bad, he’s last down the backside, he circles the field, and he still won off fairly easy. It was like, if we’re ever going to take a shot, now’s the chance. You couldn’t have drawn it up in a storybook and have it go any better.”
“I think that’s the best he ever broke in his life,” said winning rider Julio Felix, now three wins away from 2,500 career victories. “I think that’s the best he ever broke in his life. He settled, there was a good speed duel up front, and when I asked him to run he picked it up really nice. (Tend and Matthewsburg) were running but he was game—kept sticking his head out.”
The speed duel came first from Plutonium and Live From Appollo and then from Live From Appollo and Unsaddled Glory, with the opening quarter going in :22.82 and the half in :46.10. Grand Daddy, Tend and the 5-2 favorite Matthewsburg closed together to start their own duel, with Tend taking the lead along the inside at the head of stretch but giving way in the last strides to Grand Daddy, who had circled the field.
Completing the order of finish were Dynamite Bob, Attractive Ride, Unsaddled Glory, Kind Regards, Pass the Crown, Live From Appollo, Hollywood Hit, who broke poorly for the second straight race, Plutonium, and Banjammer. St. Maxiumus Gato did not draw in from the also-eligible list and was scratched.
Grand Daddy went off as sixth choice at 8.90-1 and paid $19.80, $7.40 and $4.60.
Grand Daddy is owned by Michael Snyder’s Pattons Creek Farm and has earned $151,669. He is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Love Style. Robert Raphaelson is the breeder.
Live racing at Turfway continues Sunday with first post at 1:10 p.m. Sunday’s card will complete the final four-day racing week of the Winter/Spring Meet. Beginning Feb. 3 and continuing through the meet’s end on April 1, Turfway will race live three days a week—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—with an additional live day on Monday, Feb. 20. Post times continue at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and at 1:10 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and the single Monday.