Viva Majorca capped a productive Churchill Downs meet for both himself and trainer Ian Wilkes by......
Viva Majorca capped a productive Churchill Downs meet for both himself and trainer Ian Wilkes by rallying to win the final stakes of the meet, the $67,750 Kelly’s Landing on Saturday night.
A son of Grade 1 winner Tiago, Viva Majorca raced three times at this meet, winning twice. After taking an optional-claiming event during the meet’s opening week on April 30, he came in off a creditable fourth in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes on May 30 behind Alsvid, champion Work All Week, and Nates Mineshaft.
The Kelly’s Landing was the 16th victory of the meet for Wilkes, who finished third in the trainers’ standings. The trainer, who also won the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes with Island Town at this meet, wasn’t on hand for Saturday’s race, as his son Brodie graduated from the Irish National Stud’s program this weekend. Saddling Viva Majorca in his stead was mentor and close friend Carl Nafzger.
“Ian learned a lot about this horse last year,” Nafzger said of Viva Majorca, who was picking up his first stakes win. “He decided to get him to relax a little more. You’ve seen today, when he relaxed, he ran big. When he relaxes, he runs big; otherwise, he’ll run a little bit too much. But otherwise, he’s a great horse.”
Under Brian Hernandez Jr., Viva Majorca indeed relaxed early, running eighth of nine through the first half-mile of the seven-furlong tilt as Good Lord took the field through opening splits of 22.60 seconds and 45.17. Good Lord repelled a mild challenge from Brewing around the turn and shook clear by two lengths into the stretch before the late closers pounced.
Schivarelli came on between horses, inhaling the leader virtually in tandem with Viva Majorca, who rallied widest of all. Viva Majorca got up to win by half a length, with Good Lord holding third, another 2 1/4 lengths back. The final time was 1:22.12.
“We sat back, and when I called on him, he ran home really nice and finished up great,” Hernandez said. “He ran big. He showed up. I think the seven-eighths might be his best way.”
Winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and over $2.3 million, Tiago is the sire of 15% stakes horses from starters in his first two crops.
-edited from www.drf.com