Verstappen Outduels Red Knight For 16-1 Elkhorn Upset - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Verstappen Outduels Red Knight For 16-1 Elkhorn Upset

War Front gelding Verstappen, ridden by Declan Cannon, wins the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland

Andrew Farm, For the People Racing Stable, and Windmill Manor Farm's Verstappen held off Red Knight by a head to win the 38th running of the $350,000 Elkhorn (G2) for 4-year-olds and up Saturday afternoon at Keeneland.

Verstappen made his graded stakes debut a winning one as he outdueled Red Knight in deep stretch to prevail.

Trained by Brendan Walsh and ridden by Declan Cannon, Verstappen completed the 1½ miles on a turf course rated as good in 2:29.28. It is Cannon's first Keeneland stakes victory.

Tiz the Bomb led the field of eight through fractions of :24.68, :49.69, 1:14.93 and 1:40 while being hounded by defending Elkhorn winner Channel Maker as Verstappen and Red Knight raced at the rear of the field.

At the top of the stretch as the field began to bunch up, Verstappen and Red Knight had clear running on the outside with Verstappen getting the first jump and taking the lead at the eighth pole with Red Knight challenging to his inside but unable to get by.

A Keeneland sales graduate, Verstappen is a 4-year-old War Front gelding out of the Peintre Celebre mare Andromeda Galaxy. Now owning a record of 4-3-2 from 12 career starts, Verstappen increased his earnings to $447,846 with Saturday's $208,863 check.

Verstappen returned $34.30 for the win.

Red Knight, ridden by Gerardo Corrales, finished two lengths in front of third-place finisher Another Mystery under Jareth Loveberry.

It was another 1½ lengths back to Channel Maker, who was followed in order by Tiz the Bomb, Howe Street, Rising Empire. and Value Engineering.

Elkhorn Quotes:

Brendan Walsh (winning trainer of Verstappen): “We've always liked him. As he was going to get older, we always thought he'd get better. He made great progress over the winter. Declan (Cannon) rode him to perfection. I'm delighted for him. He does a lot of work for me, rides a lot of my work, so it's a great reward. The guys that own the horse are huge supporters of mine, and my own team at home … it's just a great team effort all around. Coming in here, we said if he ran well today, if he ran in the first three, it would open a big door for him, so I think anything from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half, I think he's still going to get better and better. I don't think we've seen the best of him yet.”

Declan Cannon (winning rider): “Brendan didn't give me much instruction: just to ride him with confidence. I know the horse pretty well. I had a lovely smooth trip. I just had him relax, and he gave me a big run. He really got the trip well and we had no issues. It was very smooth. (Following Red Knight), he dragged me into the race nice but, like I say, my horse traveled so good and I was just able to ride him with a lot of confidence. I knew the mile-and-a-half would be perfect. When he turned in, he started reaching for the lead and stretched all the way to the line. He did what I expected.”

Gerardo Corrales (rider of runner-up Red Knight): “I had a good trip. When I asked him to run, he responded and at the end I thought I had won by a nose. We were fighting and the horse didn't let up, but the race was very close.”

Jareth Loveberry (rider of third-place finisher Another Mystery): “I had a beautiful trip, I was able to save ground both turns, just had a really good trip. Just ran third.”

Flavien Prat (rider of sixth-place finisher and beaten favorite Howe Street): “I was in a good position. He became really keen when he got in front of the Grandstand. I let him run around the turn trying to get him to drop the bridle and relax. He was running pretty aggressively, so from that point he couldn't accelerate.”

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