The Will Farish-owned and Neil Howard-trained Mineshaft (A.P. Indy) provided jockey Robby Albarado with some of his finest moments in the saddle. Horse and rider teamed for nine wins from 11 starts following his repatriation, four of those in Grade I company, including the 2003 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Guest Suite (Quality Road) has a fair bit of ground to cover to be mentioned in the same breath with that Horse of the Year and Eclipse Award-winning older horse of 2003, but the bay gelding continued his progressive form Saturday with a comfortable victory over 'TDN Rising Star' Untrapped (Trappe Shot) in Saturday's GIII Lecomte S. at the Fair Grounds.
A strong-finishing third on his 5 1/2-furlong debut at Ellis Park Aug. 20, the homebred overcame the widest gate in a field of 11 to graduate trying a route of ground for the first time at Keeneland Oct. 8. Tested for class in the Oct. 30 Street Sense S. at Churchill Downs, he was consigned to a four-deep run around the turn, but stayed on nicely enough to finish third, beaten five lengths by 'TDN Rising Star' McCraken (Ghostzapper). The 2-1 favorite when dropped back into a first-level allowance Nov. 26, he drew wide again, but came through between rivals at the top of the lane and covered his final two furlongs in a sharp :24.73 to score by 6 1/4 lengths.
Saturday, Fair Grounds
LECOMTE S.-GIII, $200,000, FG, 1-21, 3yo, 1m 70y, 1:43.20, my.
1–#@GUEST SUITE, 122, g, 3, by Quality Road
1st Dam: Guest House, by Ghostzapper
2nd Dam: Welcome Surprise, by Seeking the Gold
3rd Dam: Weekend Surprise, by Secretariat
O-W.S. Farish & Lora Jean Kilroy; B-W. S. Farish & Kilroy
Thoroughbred Partnership (KY); T-Neil J. Howard; J-Robby
Albarado. $120,000. Lifetime Record: 5-3-0-2, $203,840.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick
Rating: B+.2–Untrapped, 116, c, 3, Trappe Shot–Exit Three, by Giant's
Causeway. ($97,000 Ylg '15 KEEJAN; $150,000 Ylg '15 KEESEP;
$125,000 2yo '16 OBSAPR). O-Michael Langford; B-Indian
Creek & Jonathan Sheppard (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen.
$40,000. 'TDN Rising Star'3–Takeoff, 116, c, 3, Arch–Frisk Her, by Officer. ($150,000 Ylg
'15 KEESEP; $550,000 2yo '16 OBSMAR). O-John C. Oxley;
B-JMJ Racing Stables, LLC (KY); T-Mark E. Casse. $20,000.Margins: 1 1/4, HF, HD. Odds: 2.80, 5.20, 6.70.
Also Ran: Arklow, Shareholder Value, Phat Man, Tip Tap Tapizar, Marco Mischief, Running Mate, Totality, Pat On the Back. Scratched: Saint's Fan. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO
Away without incident in this graded-stakes debut, Guest Suite landed slightly better than mid-field as longshot Phat Man (Munnings) set a strong and pressured pace from TDN Rising Star Running Mate (Creative Cause). While the duo up front were eyeballing each other through fractions of :23.42 and :46.47, Albarado was biding his time from sixth position, and although he had an option to loop rivals entering the second turn, he opted for a two-path run and was steered out into about the five path as the quarter-pole loomed. Roused to the front a furlong and a half from the line, Guest Suite looked to idle ever so slightly inside the final eighth of a mile, but he had built up a lead that was large enough and held sway as Untrapped closed inches. Takeoff sat a stalking trip from third, took command in between calls and stayed on gamely to round out the trifecta.
“I had a great trip,” said Albarado, making his 4999th career trip to the winner's circle. “He's a nice horse and Neil has done an exceptional job with him. He's growing up. He's a smart horse and it makes it easy. He's been training forwardly. I just show up for the races, they do all the work, the Howard stable.”
Added the winning trainer, “Everyone has the same goals looking ahead after getting started in a race like this. Obviously it was nothing short of great to see that kind of performance. Providing everything went well, we had [focused on this race] after Churchill. It's hard because you try to give them a little bit of a break. I certainly think that everything is in front of him, but it's too hard to tell. There are some really good ones out there, not the least of which is Ian's horse [McCracken] who is very talented, but I thought this was a good gauge for him because it was a nice bunch of 3-year-olds. He has [turned a corner]. He has had a great schedule and hasn't missed a beat training and has trained wonderfully down here.”
A $200,000 buyback out of the 2009 Keeneland September sale, Guest Suite hails from a female family with which the Lane's End team is intimately acquainted. His second dam, GSW Welcome Surprise (Seeking the Gold), is a daughter of blue-hen Weekend Surprise (Secretariat), the dam of Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, GI Preakness S. hero Summer Squall, GISP Weekend in Seattle, SW Eavesdropper and MGSP Honor Grades. A full-sister to Guest Suite was purchased by Hartley/DeRenzo for $220,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale, while the winner's dam was sold for $100,000 in foal to Noble Mission (GB) at the 2016 Keeneland January sale. Guest House produced a filly by that full-brother to Frankel (GB) last year and was most recently bred to Palace Malice.