It was too close to call as COLONEL LIAM and DOMESTIC SPENDING (GB) hit the wire yesterday in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic.
SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT led the field of nine through fractions of :24.40 and :49.17. The favorite, COLONEL LIAM, tracked in third and DOMESTIC SPENDING raced near the back of the pack. COLONEL LIAM cut the corner turning from home, moving to the outside of SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT, taking the lead at the eighth pole. DOMESTIC SPENDING worked his way through traffic and moved to the outside of COLONEL LIAM. The pair ran to the wire in step, noses hitting the line in a dead heat.
It was trainer Chad Brown's third consecutive victory in the race who won it in 2018 with BRICKS AND MORTAR and in 2020 with DIGITAL AGE (IRE). Pletcher trains COLONEL LIAM and won the race in 2006 with ENGLISH CHANNEL.
"It was a nail biter there. Irad had a tough choice. He stayed with COLONEL LIAM because he's been running this year and I was so fortunate to get Flavien to ride the horse. I had a lot of confidence in him. It was a real tough decision for Irad, so I totally understand those things. We've had a lot of success together. You can see why it was a very tough decision. It was very close between the horses. I thought Flavien did a great job. He rode to instructions. We nearly got there to get the whole prize in one more jump, but I'll take it. Especially when I see the slo-mo, I'll take the dead heat because of the head bob," said Brown in the post-race press conference.
Flavien Prat, riding DOMESTIC SPENDING, said, "I sat behind some horses, taking my time and saving some ground, then when I had the chance, we got in the right path. He had a tremendous turn of foot today. To be honest, I didn't know the results. I came up on him so fast, I wasn't sure. Right past the wire, I knew I was ahead of him, but at the wire, I wasn't so sure."
"He was doing everything right, it was a great race. It was so close, so close. On the big TV, the slow-mo, I say, ‘Man, I've got a good chance to win.' Then here it is, a dead heat," state Ortiz.
"I was very proud of his effort," says Pletcher of COLONEL LIAM, "It looked like he edged clear inside the eighth pole and I was proud Irad urged on to the finish."
The final finish was COLONEL LIAM and DOMESTIC SPENDING in a dead heat followed by SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT. One and a half lengths back was COUNT AGAIN in fourth, followed by DIGITAL AGE (IRE), IVAR (BRZ), CROSS BORDER, MASTEROFFOXHOUNDS, and RIDE A COMET.