My Boanerges Favored In Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint At Ellis

Trainer Dallas Keen shipped My Boanerges almost 700 miles from Oklahoma’s Remington Park to Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., to run for less money and tougher competition than if he’d sent the 5-year-old gelding to Albuquerque to race against fellow New Mexico-breds.

My Boanerges is the 3-1 favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Turf Sprint at the RUNHAPPY Ellis Park Meet. He enters off two stakes victories against open company in his last two starts at Texas’ Lone Star Park, including beating the Preview Turf Sprint’s 7-2 second choice Archidust in his previous race.

“For a sprinter, he’s probably the best I’ve had,” said Keen, who began training in 1986. “I just know the horse. He’s going to give me his all.”

With $25,000 of the Turf Sprint’s purse reserved for Kentucky-breds through Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund supplements, My Boanerges is running for $75,000. Had Keen chosen to wait two weeks and ship only 545 miles to The Downs at Albuquerque, the gelding probably would be no higher odds than 1-to-5 in the $100,000 Casey Darnell restricted to New Mexico-breds at the same 5 1/2-furlong distance on dirt.

But Keen and owners Nancy and David Lock are looking at an even bigger prize: The Preview Turf Sprint winner gets an automatic fees-paid spot in Kentucky Downs’ $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint, which in turn is a “Win And You’re In” qualifier for a free spot in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif. in November.. Horses that aren’t Kentucky-breds still compete for $550,000 – America’s richest turf sprint outside the Breeders’ Cup — in the Grade 3 FanDuel race.

However, if the Kentucky Downs stakes gets an overflow field, which is quite possible, preference is given to graded-stakes winners. My Boanerges hasn’t had the opportunity to even run in a graded stakes, which are in relative short supply in the turf sprint division.

“The Locks started noticing the race at Kentucky Downs,” Keen said at Ellis Park Thursday. “Then we found out about this race, a win-and-you’re in for Kentucky Downs. Him not having any graded-stakes money, we knew if we were going to dream big about the Breeders’ Cup, we were going to need some graded money or go a different route.”

This weekend’s seven Preview stakes providing a path to Kentucky Downs “opens the door to horses that might get (stuck) on the side because they don’t have the graded money,” Keen said.

By the way, Keen says Boanerges “is a word out of the Bible, a nickname for a couple of Jesus’ disciples.” That’s James and John, according to online dictionaries, with Boanerges meaning “son of thunder” in Ancient Greek from Hebrew. Today it also means a preacher or orator.

My Boanerges has certainly provided thunder on the racetrack. After a third in his debut before which he got loose on the track at New Mexico’s Zia Park, the gelding has never been worse than second in 10 starts, with seven victories. He went to the sidelines after his 3-year-old year, before missing his entire 4-year-old season.

My Boanerges’ misfortunate proved a happy turn of events for Keen, who was stabling in Houston at the time.

“A few years back, I’d trained for the Locks,” he said. “When the COVID shut down racing in New Mexico, they contacted me. He was coming off a layoff. By the time we had him ready to run, he’d been off almost a year and a half.”

My Boanerges had never before raced on turf. The gelding finished second in his first two starts at the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s Lone Star Park, including an off-the-turf allowance race, then swept the two stakes, one of which also came off the turf.

“Just didn’t really know,” My Boanerges’ preferred surface, Keen said. “And, too, a lot of times you enter for turf and you run in the mud anyway. Didn’t really know if he liked mud, either. The first time he ran on turf, it was obvious his first few jumps that he liked it.”

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Keen believes the speedster will be content to rate behind a horse if necessary.

“The first time I ran him coming off the layoff, a horse kind of acted up in the gate,” he said. “He turned his head right when they popped the gates. Normally he’s on the lead. But he actually came from off the pace that day and ran second, got beat a head. He’ll stay running, even if he’s not on the lead.”

Have we seen his fastest? “It seems like he keeps getting better to me,” Keen said. “He’s happy right now.”

The post My Boanerges Favored In Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint At Ellis appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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