Although he has been placed on numerous occasions in juvenile qualifiers, only twice has Karl Khoder’s Rule The Air managed to get his head in front in this grade. However, both of those two qualifier wins came over 2400m, the same as today’s test and on both those occasions he also had Dakota Celery behind.
The key to Dakota Celery’s performances though is less dependant on the distance than it is on the ground conditions. Inx’s charge loves to sink his hooves into a muddy dirt surface. Five times so far this season the bay colt has lined up for a qualifier where the prevailing conditions were muddy and he has taken four of them. In fact, the only time he was beaten in a qualifier on muddy ground was in a sprint event. Other than that, he is undefeated in three stayers qualifiers and one classic.
Also in the line-up was AP822’s Ap Godzilla. This chestnut is no slouch either, having already netted a Juvenile Classic Qualifier as well as a second place finish in a stayers’ event recently. It seemed fitting though that the two main protagonists and old rivals should fight out the finish to this one. Both colts held every chance but ultimately it was Dakota Celery who came out on top with Claude Virenque getting the better of Heinrich Nikolaus in a thrilling finish, both jockeys in the drive position some way from home. Foggydan‘s King O’ The Realm did well to get as close as he did and finished third.
Not surprisingly, the same two colts also dominate the current standings for November’s final. Currently, Dakota Celery comes out on top here too, twelve points to the good. Rule the Air is in second place, himself eight points ahead of the remainder, led by McKinleys’ Raymond’s Pride who finished fourth here and Karl Khoder‘s Excites.
The Juvenile Classic Qualifier Fillies looked equally competitive with a number of high-class runners going to post. None had bigger claims on paper than Chrisman‘s talented filly, Chromium, already a dual classic qualifier winner this term. A chief threat looked like it might come from Mudflaps’ Tasered, a previous winner of a stayers’ event at the beginning of the month. An interesting contender was Karl Khoder’s once raced filly, Viktoria’s Secret. She had won a small nursery race on her only start to date. She appeared to have a lot to prove in this grade but there is no doubt that Karl Khoder is a trainer that knows what it takes to be competitive.
His decision to run her here was vindicated and she ran a gallant race to finish second with only Jekegr Stables’ Tabak Especial getting the better of her here. She had previously managed a couple of placed efforts in similar events but there was no doubt this was a marked step up in form. Much of the credit must go to jockey, Jack Ford who gave the filly a great ride.
Chrisman’s Chromium, who finished third here, still heads the standings. She is currently thirteen points clear of her nearest pursuer, Gnb Racing’s Bank Note. Tabak Especial is now just two points further back, tied in equal third with Filante Stables’ Big Samantha.