Winning ‘Spirit’ continues in open company

Sunday, April 21st, 2024

Spirit of St Louis returns a winner and against open company in Saturday’s Danger’s Hour Stakes at Aqueduct. Walter Wlodarczyk/NYRA Photo.

By Paul Halloran

Saturday’s Danger’s Hour Stakes at Aqueduct may have been the first foray into open company for Spirit of St Louis, but when you have stared City Man in the eye twice in your last three races – and beaten him once – how hard could it be?

As it turned out, not very.

Confidently handled by jockey Manny Franco, who was seeking his fourth straight win on the card, the Chester and Mary Broman-bred Spirit of St Louis swung wide on the far turn and rolled down the middle of the fresh turf course to win the $150,000 stakes for 4-year-olds and up.

“He can compete in open company,” said Franco, who has ridden the 5-year-old Medaglia d’Oro gelding in five of his eight races, winning four of them. “He’s a nice horse. I’m glad to be on him.”

Franco had Spirit of St Louis in sixth, well off the pace set by Heaven Street, who went a quarter-mile in :23.25 and a half in :46.35. He maintained that position before asking his horse to pick it up midway on the far turn and getting the response he was looking for.

“I cut the corner at the three-eighths pole and I had a lot of horse,” Franco said.

The winning margin was 1 3/4 lengths with a final time of 1:33.57, a track record over a course that was being used for the first time this year.

“He’s a hell of a nice horse,” said trainer Chad Brown, who also ran second with Equitize and last with pace-pressing Masen. “We gave him a little break and he’s really used his time off well to refresh himself. I couldn’t ask for anything more from his first race back. It was an excellent race for him.”

Spirit of St Louis was coming off a win over City Man in the Mohawk Stakes, after getting caught by the $1.2 million earner and Grade 2 winner two races prior in the West Point Stakes on New York Showcase Day at Saratoga Race Course August 27. That is one of only two blemishes on his record, the other coming when he ran second in a state-bred allowance in his second career start.

Purchased by Michael Dubb for $280,000 at the 2023 Keeneland April horses of racing age sale, Spirit of St Louis is a full brother to 2017 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner and New York-bred champion Bar of Gold. They are out of the Lemon Drop kid mare Khancord Kid, a Grade 3 winner who has produced five winning foals. Madaket Stables and Richard Schermerhorn bought in after the purchase.

“I’m just fortunate to have bought the horse,” Dubb said. “I knew when he was at the sale last year that he had all kinds of ability. He, to me, seems a lot better than just a restricted, state-bred type of New York-bred, but I’ll leave it to Chad to tell me what is next.”

After winning three of his first four starts, Spirit of St Louis, a $300,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2020, tried state-bred stakes company for the first time in the West Point. He bounced back by taking the Ashley T. Cole Stakes, followed by a win in the Mohawk, with City Man second.

The Bromans bought Khancord Kid’s dam, Confidently, in 2000. In addition to Bar of Gold and Spirit of St Louis, Khancord Kid produced stakes-placed Land Mine and Homeland, as well as Im Just Kiddin. She has an unraced 2-year-old filly by Uncle Mo named Mo Khanfidence, and a yearling full brother to Bar of Gold.

The Danger’s Hour is named for a Grade 1 winner who made 21 of his 25 career starts in New York and was owned by Rokeby Stables, trained my Mack Miller and ridden by Jerry Bailey.

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