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    Carpe Diem
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    Making only his second start, WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stable’s Carpe Diem won the $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) Saturday before a crowd of 25,070 at Keeneland and picked up 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby points system. The 1 1/16 mile route on the dirt was also a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, which earned Carpe Diem a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), plus a $10,000 travel stipend, to be run Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Cal.

    Although he was initially unwilling to load, Carpe Diem broke well from the gate and before long was unstoppable, besting the field by 6 1/4 lengths and giving trainer Todd Pletcher another grade one victory.

    “He was a little difficult in the gate,” said jockey John Velazquez. “I tried to settle him behind horses and teach him a little bit. He got a little aggressive and I didn’t want to fight him so I just let him be what he wanted to be in the backstretch and then he settled very well. Once he got head-and-head with that other horse [Conquest Tsunami], he got on the bit again. He was going good the whole way.”

    Conquest Tsunami set a brisk pace of 23.54 and 48.09 for the first two quarters, but on the backstretch Carpe Diem overtook the colt and never looked back. Into the stretch Carpe Diem already had a 4 1/2-length lead on his rivals. Although Mr. Z tried, there was no catching Carpe Diem. Mr. Z finished second, 5 ¾ lengths in front of Bold Conquest. Tough Customer ran a game race to hang on to fourth, a length behind Bold Conquest.

    “The winner made his winning move on the backside,” said jockey Jon Court, rider of runner-up Mr. Z. “He was out there all alone and wasn’t coming back to anyone. I had a good trip, but we weren’t going to catch the winner.”

    Carpe Diem broke his maiden at Saratoga Sept. 1 in a wire-to-wire tromp in which he beat his rivals by 2 ½ lengths in a sprint.

    “He ran great at Saratoga and then to come here in a Grade 1 like this and put it all together like that around two turns, it’s very exciting,” said Elliott Walden, President and CEO of WinStar Farm. “This horse is a beautiful horse, he’s got a great pedigree and we are hoping to make a stallion. I think we did that today.”

    Carpe Diem was a colt Walden, knew he wanted. WinStar was the underbidder when the colt sold for $550,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2013. When the son of Giant’s Causeway came back up for sale at Keeneland’s 2-year-old in training sale a few months later, WinStar got him with a winning bid of $1.6 million.

    “He’s special,” said Walden. “We felt like he was the best horse in that sale and felt pretty strongly. It worked out well.”

    Carpe Diem returned $6.80, $5.00, and $4.00. Mr. Z paid $15.60 and $10.40 and completed the $2 exacta for $119.60. Bold Conquest paid $3.40 and completed the $2 trifecta for $559.20. Tough Customer completed the $2 superfecta for $5,615.20. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile race over the fast dirt was 1:43.38.

    Keeneland Photo

    Jessie Oswald's picture

    About Jessie Oswald

    I'm a lifetime Louisville resident with a passion for horse racing. When I'm not working as a paralegal or taking care of my family, I follow Thoroughbred racing and love to share the excitement and beauty of the sport with anyone willing to learn!

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