Kentucky-breds won a quartet of Grade 1 races on the first Saturday in June, stretching from Kameko’s stirring win in the 2000 Guineas S. at Newmarket in England, to Improbable’s dominant score in the Hollywood Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park.
Vekoma powered to victory in the Carter H. at Belmont Park and Honor A. P. took the Santa Anita Derby to round out the winning performances.
Kameko, a son of Kitten’s Joy bred by Calumet Farm, won the eight-furlong turf affair for 3-year-olds by a neck over Wichita (IRE) in race-record time of 1:34.72. A stakes winner at two, Kameko is 3-2-0 in five starts for Qatar Racing Ltd.
Kameko is likely to have his next outing in the July 4 Epsom Derby (G1) according to trainer Andrew Balding.
Vekoma’s eye-catching 7 1/4-length victory in the Carter was the first Grade 1 success for the 4-year-old son of Candy Ride (ARG) who was bred by Alpha Delta Stables. Racing over a track rendered sloppy from heavy downpours earlier on the card, Vekoma stalked in second before taking over in upper stretch, then drew off handily to finish the seven furlongs in 1:21.02 and earn a stellar Beyer Speed Figure of 110.
“I think off that effort, we’ll look at the (GI Runhappy) Met Mile (July 4),” said winning trainer George Weaver.
Winner of the Blue Grass S. (G2) last term, Vekoma is now 5-0-1 in seven starts and has earned $970,525 for R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables. Vekoma is out of Humana Distaff S. (G1) winner Mona de Momma and sold for $135,000 to his owners at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling sale.
Honor A. P.’s Santa Anita Derby win secured the 3-year-old colt a spot in the starting gate for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby (G1). A son of Honor Code, Honor A. P. was making his Grade 1 debut on Saturday and after setting well off the pace, stormed by heavy favorite Authentic in mid-stretch to win by 2 3/4-lengths.
“It seems the further you go with him the better, he=s just got that big long, beautiful, powerful stride. He gives every indication that he can go a mile and a quarter,” said winning rider Mike Smith.
Honor A. P. is the first Grade 1 winner for his sire who stands at Lane’s End. Bred by George Krikorian, the distinctive-looking dark bay sold for $850,000 to his owner CRK Stable at he 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearlings sale.
Improbable outclassed his competition in the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Gold Cup, taking over the lead at the mid-way point and clearing off, eventually winning by 3 1/4-lengths for his first Grade 1 score since winning the 2018 Los Alamitos Futurity.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, the 4-year-old son of City Zip is likely to meet Vekoma in the Met Mile.
Improbable was bred by St. George Farm LLC and G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and sold for $200,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling sale.
Out of multiple winner Rare Event, Improbable’s third dam is responsible for prominent sire Hard Spun. Improbable has a 2-year-old half-brother named Snake Doctor (Oxbow) and a yearling half-brother by Cross Traffic.
Improbable-Hollywood Gold Cup