Woodbine Invader Admiralty Pier Brings Class to Bourbon


By Nathan Mayberg, courtesy Blood-Horse

With 14 2-year-old colts and geldings set to run in the $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland Oct. 8, a clean trip could prove crucial with most of the inexperienced field only owning maiden wins. The weather could also be a factor with thunderstorms in the forecast.

The class of the race arrives from north of the border as Bruce Lunsford and Hoolie Racing Stable's Admiralty Pier exits a close third-place finish in the Summer Stakes (G2) at Woodbine. He lost by 3/4 of a length to Untamed Domain, while rallying boldly on the rail.

Trained by Barbara Minshall, the English Channel gelding romped by 4 3/4 lengths in his debut, going 6 1/2 furlongs over the grass at Woodbine Aug. 6. Though Minshall wanted to get a prep into Admiralty Pier before the Summer Stakes, that race didn't fill. Minshall said he was "a little green" going into his last effort.

"He got jammed up there and didn't get through until late. I thought he ran a really good race," she said.

"He's just a young horse learning," Minshall said. She believes he is "more focused now."

He posted a sharp :59 3/5 breeze Sept. 29 over the main track at Woodbine, and Minshall said "he had a lot left" after completing the work.

Trainer Mark Casse will have two chances to win Sunday's race with John Oxley's Flameaway, as well as Stonestreet Stables and Aqis Farm's Machtree.

Flameaway is one of two stakes winners in the field, having captured the Skidmore Stakes Aug. 18 at Saratoga Race Course when it was washed off the grass going 5 1/2 furlongs in the mud. That experience could prove to be an advantage in the case of heavy rain. He ran sixth in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) going a mile on the dirt at Churchill Downs last month. This would be his first time on the turf and he is well bred for it, by Scat Daddy out of a Fusaichi Pegasus mare whose family includes group 1 winners Salsabil (IRE) and Marju (IRE).

He has worked on the turf at Saratoga and Woodbine, and Casse has been trying to get him on the grass since Saratoga. Casse said he never "leveled off" in the Iroquois, in what he called a "spotty" race that included some steadying while in between horses. He returned to post a :47 2/5 bullet over the main track at Keeneland Oct. 1, the best of 53 moves at the distance. Casse said the horse trained well over the turf but also "looks pretty darn good on the dirt.

"The pedigree says grass, grass, grass."

As for his other entrant, Machtree, Casse has a couple of excuses for his 10th place finish last time out in the With Anticipation Stakes (G3T) at Saratoga Aug. 30.

"He got checked at about the 3/16 pole and his shoe (flew) off," Casse said. "He quit running from there."

Machtree ended up finishing seven lengths behind the winner, Catholic Boy.

Another horse in the field with stakes experience is Lonthenbach Stables' homebred Captivating Moon. An easy winner over the turf going a mile on debut July 30, Captivating Moon was 3/4 of a length short in his second start, to Barry Lee in the Sept. 9 Arlington-Washington Futurity Stakes over the all-weather track.

Trainer Chris Block said he doesn't think the seven-furlong distance of that race was optimal for Captivating Moon. "I think he's much better at two turns. I'm not sure he's real fond of the synthetic surface," he said.

Captivating Moon is cross-entered for the Oct. 7 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland.

"I am going to watch the weather closely," he said.

Other top threats in the field include John Tippmann, who was second last out in the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile Stakes at Kentucky Downs Sept. 6 for trainer Ken McPeek. Arawak, who finished third in that race for trainer Wesley Ward, is also entered here.

Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred Tap Daddy exits an open-lengths victory against maiden special weight company going 6 1/2 furlongs at Kentucky Downs. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the Scat Daddy colt figures to be forwardly placed in a race without a lot of obvious speed.