Godolphin homebred First Mission, coming off an impressive maiden-breaking score at Fair Grounds last month, made the jump to graded company with aplomb, striding home a determined victor of the GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. at Keeneland Saturday. Sent off at 2-1, the dark bay colt sat just off pacesetting Arabian Lion through fractions of :24.12 and :48.01. He cut the corner into the stretch as the pacesetter drifted out into the lane and gamely persevered as that foe drifted back in on him and he was inching clear late.
“This was a tough Lexington S.,” said Godolphin director of bloodstock Michael Banahan. “There were some nice horses in there. So we were very hopeful and confident that if he showed the talent that we thought he had, we had a big, big chance. It's exceptionally nice to see that happen, and especially the experience he needed to get, coming down [the stretch] in tight on the rail. For an inexperienced horse, I think that will hold well for the future with us.”
A debut second behind well-regarded stablemate Bishops Bay (Uncle Mo) while sprinting six furlongs at Fair Grounds Feb. 18, First Mission romped home by 6 3/4 lengths in a 'TDN Rising Star'-worthy performance when stretched to 1 1/16 miles in New Orleans last time out Mar. 18.
“[Trainer] Brad [Cox] just got this guy in after Christmas time and had never seen him before, so he wasn't sure where we were going to stable him for the winter time,” Banahan said. “He saw him work one time up at Churchill and he said, 'This horse is going down to Fair Grounds,' where he put all his good horses.
“We've always held him in high regard. He had a few juvenile issues last year, but we were very high on him. He ran a tremendous race first time out, when Brad's other horse beat him going six furlongs, knowing he wanted to stretch out. He won very easily last time.”
Asked if First Mission may make his next start in the GI Preakness S. in five weeks' time, Banahan said, “I think it will be ideal, really. When he ran in his maiden race, we thought, 'OK, let's come back a little quicker in the maiden, a little bit quicker back in here' from what Brad would normally do, to see if he had enough talent to do that. I think he answered a lot of questions today, so we'd certainly look hard at that. I think we have a nice horse for down the road even if he doesn't make one of the Classics.”
With his third-place finish, Winchell Thoroughbreds' Disarm earned enough points to qualify for a spot in the GI Kentucky Derby.
“It looks like he got enough points to go, so we have the option to go,” Ron Winchell said. “We'll see how he comes out of this race. We've always thought a mile and a quarter [of the Derby] would be fine for him.”
First Mission is the 39th worldwide graded winner for his sire, Street Sense. His dam Etude produced a full-brother last year and was bred back to Protonico. His second dam is Argentinian champion Forty Marchanta (Arg) (Roar).
STONESTREET LEXINGTON S.-GIII, $398,750, Keeneland, 4-15, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:43.74, ft.
1–FIRST MISSION, 118, c, 3, by Street Sense
1st Dam: Elude, by Medaglia d'Oro
2nd Dam: Forty Marchanta (Arg), by Roar
3rd Dam: Marcha Toss (Arg), by Egg Toss
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN.
'TDN Rising Star'. O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-Brad H. Cox; J-Luis
Saez. $232,500. Lifetime Record: 3-2-1-0, $276,500.
Werk Nick Rating: A+.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the
free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Arabian Lion, 118, c, 3, Justify–Unbound, by Distorted
Humor. 1ST BLACK TYPE, 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE.
'TDN Rising Star'. ($600,000 2yo '22 OBSAPR). O-Zedan Racing
Stables, Inc.; B-Bonne Chance Farm LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert.
3–Disarm, 118, c, 3, Gun Runner–Easy Tap, by Tapit.
'TDN Rising Star'. O/B-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (KY);
T-Steven M. Asmussen. $37,500.
Margins: HF, 4 1/4, 3/4. Odds: 2.19, 3.89, 3.46.
Also Ran: Denington, Demolition Duke, Prairie Hawk, Empirestrikesfast, Baseline Beater, Reinvest, Curly Larry and Mo. Scratched: Transect.
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