KELSO HANDICAP | PURSE: $400,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 MILE
In his first start back from injury, Graydar spurted to the early lead and held on to win the $400,000 Kelso Handicap by three-quarters of a length over Brujo de Olleros Sept. 28 at Belmont Park.
The race was part of the track's Super Saturday card, which included six graded stakes, anchored by five top-level races, that serve as Breeders' Cup Challenge Series "Win & You're In" events.
The Kelso victory guaranteed Graydar a start in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park under the "Win & You're In" format. The 4-year-old Unbridled's Song colt has been under consideration for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at 1 ¼ miles the following day at the Arcadia, California, track. Twin Creeks Racing Stables and trainer Todd Pletcher will hold off on any decision to see how their colt emerges from the Kelso.
"We think he's a classic-like horse, no doubt, but we'll just have to evaluate this race and see how he's doing, and decide," said Randy Gullat, a partner with Steve Davison in owner Twin Creeks Racing Stables. "It's a good problem to have."
With Edgar Prado at the reins, Graydar spurted into command early and set a moderate pace tracked by Souper Speedy. He stemmed a stretch challenge from Uruguayan champion miler Brujo de Olleros as Hymn Book strongly charged on the outside to take third.
Graydar set moderate fractions of :23.41, :47.11, and 1:10.47 through six furlongs before finishing the one-turn, one-mile test in 1:34.08. The Kelso marked his first start from an ankle injury that sidelined him for six months.
"The horse has done well from [the first day] we started getting him back," Gullat said of Graydar, who recorded a fourth consecutive win. "He's just such a good horse."
Graydar posted a front-running victory in the Donn Handicap Feb. 9 at Gulfstream Park after closing his sophomore campaign with an allowance win in December at the Florida track. He followed up the Donn win by coming from just off the pace to overhaul Mark Valeski in the New Orleans Handicap March 30 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Both were two-turn races at 1 ⅛ miles.
After the New Orleans Handicap, Graydar had an ankle chip removed. He was in fine fettle in his comeback in the Kelso and posted his fifth win from six career starts.
Graydar paid 3.80, 3.10 and 2.30 as the 0.90-1 favorite in the seven-horse field.
Bred in Kentucky by William S. Farish, Graydar has bankrolled $841,560. He is out of the winning Dehere mare Sweetest Smile.
Graydar was a $260,000 purchase by Gullat out of the William B. Harrigan consignment at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale. He achieved a notable milestone for sire Unbridled's Song, becoming his 100 stakes winner with his Donn triumph.
Unbridled's Song stood for 17 years for Taylor Made Stallions in Kentucky before his death earlier this year. The stallion's health had begun decline due to a large mass detected in multiple sinus cavities and around the optic nerves. Taylor Made recently purchased an interest in Graydar in a partnership deal with Twin Creeks Racing.