Cellist, with Julien Leparoux aboard, wins the Louisville Stakes
Calumet Farm homebred Cellist unleashed a bold bid nearing the stretch, collared the front-runner in lane and edged to a slim lead, then held off a fierce rally from 62-1 longshot Reigning Spirit to take the $200,000 Louisville Stakes (G3) Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Racing in sixth with a half mile to go, Cellist was ready to run when jockey Julien Leparoux gave the cue. Rallying three wide entering the lane, he overtook Cavalry Charge and inched to the lead with a sixteenth of a mile remaining and crossed the finish line with plenty of energy to prevail by head.
Reigning Spirit rallied from ninth early, swung five wide entering the lane, and unleashed a furious rally but could not get to the winner. He outfinished Highest Honors by 1 lengths for second.
Favorite Camp Hope tracked from fourth through the early stages, then finished seventh after he was bumped in the stretch and then weakened late.
Cellist covered 1 ½ miles in 2:32.12 on turf rated as good. He returned $13.60.
“We got settled in pretty well down the backside,” Leparoux said. “He seemed to handle the track pretty well early on in the race. I could feel around the turn I still had a lot of horse beneath me. I was able to get him to the outside and he had a really good kick home.”
Trainer Al Stall Jr. said Reigning Spirit ran a great race.
“We were second best,” he said.
Sharp from his runner-up finish in a 1 1/16 mile allowance test April 27 at Keeneland after checking in seventh in the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) in his season opener, Cellist tallied his first graded win in the Louisville Stakes. He was a creditable turf runner last year, placing third in the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1) in July following his first black-type victory in the Audubon Stakes at Churchill in May.
“He had a really good 3-year-old campaign last year,” Arnold said. “We came into this year with a bad race in Florida (in the Tampa Bay Stakes). He got back to Keeneland and (I) thought that race would be a good setup to going in the Louisville. He ran a good second that day and we knew there aren’t too many allowance races at this distance. It was a good setup for the Louisville today.”
With Saturday’s win, Cellist improved his career line to 3-2-2 from 10 starts and earnings of $467,875.
Cellist is by Big Blue Kitten out of the English Channel mare Cello.