Tobys Heart wins the Nelson's Green Brier Whiskey Music City Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 12, 2021. Coady Photography.

Tobys Heart Shows Mettle in Music City Stakes

Edited Press Release

Tobys Heart was all heart in winning the $500,000 Nelson’s Green Brier Whiskey Music City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs, a victory that was the fourth for leading rider Joel Rosario on Sept. 12 and the second during the six-day meet for trainer Brian Lynch.

Starting in the middle of the field of 11, the filly owned by Terry Hamilton, Gary Barber and Lynch was toward the back early in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint on a firm course. Rosario guided the 6-5 favorite toward the rail to save ground, which proved to be the winning move before the field hit the downhill turn.

“It was perfect,” Rosario said. “The horse ran really well there, I was waiting to see if something would open up for her. They just decided to stay off the rail, and she just outran them when she was clear.”

Winging it out front from the start was 30-1 Risky Reward, with Luis Saez. After setting the pace until the top of the stretch, enough room opened up along the fence for Tobys Heart to scoot through and fire out for a 2 3/4-length victory over fast-closing Alwayz Late and Umberto Rispoli in 1:14.30.

“She’s been running with some serious horses and a little cut back in distance really fell into play today,” said Lynch, who previously saw Tobys Heart finish third in the Grade 3 Lake George at Saratoga going a mile. 

“It was great to get Joel on her,” Lynch said of having Rosario riding her for the first time. “Definitely horses are running for him at the moment. He rides this course as good as anybody. We’re definitely thrilled to have him on board.”

“I listened to what Brian had to say,” Rosario said. “It looked like we were in a real good spot, with a little speed in front of us. She was handling the grass nicely and came home with a strong run.”

Runner-up jockey Rispoli, who won the inaugural edition of this race last year with LNJ Foxwoods’ Lighthouse, said his filly put in a strong performance. “I had a good trip. I was between the two horses to follow, the Wesley Ward and Brian Lynch. 

“Joel is riding on fire, so everything is opening up for him,” Rispoli continued. “When you ride like that with so much confidence, it helps you a lot. I had just a little bit of traffic in the middle of the stretch. But that didn’t bother me at all. 

“She came through. She finished up really well,” he said. “It was the same race I won last year. I was trying to make it a double. It didn’t work out. But I’m very happy with the way she ran.”

Tobys Heart paid $4.60, $3 and $2.80 while earning $291,400. Always Late returned $7.40 and $6, while Risky Reward, who hung on to finish a half-length back in third, paid $11.80. Fractions for the race were :21.99, :44.93, 1:08.43 before the final time of 1:14.30.

Purchased for $45,000, Tobys Heart now has four wins in eight starts. “She’s a very shrewd purchase and she has panned out to be a very nice filly for us,” said Lynch, who also won the $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Sprint Stakes on Sept. 9 with Red Danger — his first two Kentucky Downs stakes victories. “Hopefully there is more to come with her. She was undefeated as a 2-year-old and she is just starting to wind into a real good 3-year-old campaign.”

It marked the final victory for Rosario during the six-day meet — he closed out his assignments by finishing sixth with Micheline in the $550,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon. 

And what a week he had: From 53 mounts, he won 17 times, with 6 seconds and 4 thirds, while bringing home $2,952,097 in purses. He had a win percentage of 32 percent.

“I have to thank all the people who gave me the opportunity at Kentucky Downs – the trainers, and owners, who gave me this chance,” he said. “I really feel blessed.

“This has been a very special week.”

Family Way gives Walsh share of trainer crown

Trainer Brendan Walsh had a few reasons to smile after Family Way’s narrow victory Sunday in the $550,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon.

By edging La Lune (GB) by a neck in a three-horse blanket finish, the 4-year-old Uncle Mo filly earned her first stakes victory in North America and lifted Walsh into a tie for the trainer’s title. It was a triumph with a high-strung filly owned by Walsh’s pals.

Walsh ran her against males on Aug. 8 at Ellis Park at 1 1/4 miles to set her up for the Marathon’s 1 5/16 miles. She was a solid third at Ellis and got to the wire on time Sunday, completing the final stake of the meet in 2:07.38. She was 5-1 in the wagering and paid $13.20, $6.80 and $4.80.

“All the credit goes to Brendan and his team,” said winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione. “This filly has been a project from the beginning. He’s done a tremendous job with her.”

Blame Debbie and Stand Tall set the pace with opening fractions of :25.48 and :50.36. Go Big Blue Nation, who finished third by a nose, owned the lead through six furlongs in 1:14.60 and a mile in 1:38.78. Family Way and La Luna came running, engaged Go Big Blue Nation and the three battled to the wire.

“Very simple race,” said Gaffalione. “She broke well. She tracked the leaders and coming down the backside hill, I was able to just jump outside and get into the three-path and let my filly find her stride. When I called on her, she finished up well. I saved most of the ground to maybe about the half-mile pole and then I figured that I had plenty of horse, just give her a clean path.”

Rosario — who else? — wins Ainsworth aboard Koala Princess

A patient, clever ride by leading jockey Joel Rosario earned Koala Princess a ticket to the winner’s circle after the $500,000 Ainsworth Stakes Sunday at Kentucky Downs.

Rather than let her use her speed to set the pace as she did breaking her maiden on Aug. 21 at Monmouth Park, Rosario managed to reserve her early then let her do her best running in the stretch of the 6 ½ furlong test for 2-year-old fillies. She rolled up the inside to win by 2 ½ lengths over Mystic Eyes in 1:15.25.

Sent off at 5-1 in the field of 11, the Runnymeade Farm, Peter Callahan and Chris Zinkhan homebred returned $12.00, $5.60 and $4.40.

“It looked like she was handling it really nice today,” Rosario said. “She’s showed a really good turn of foot turning for home.”

Starting in post 2, as she had in the maiden race, Koala Princess, a daughter of More Than Ready, followed Rosario’s instructions. She sat eighth, about five lengths back through an opening quarter of 21.87 and was 3¼ lengths behind pacesetter Mystic Eyes, who hit the half-mile at 45.54. Koala Princess and Rosario were on the move and a half-length behind at the top of the stretch.

“She broke fine. There were a couple there that looked like they were in a hurry a little bit,” Rosario said. “We got to the turn and found myself in a good spot with the speed they were going. I just tried to stay there for a little while. She was handling everything inside there nice and so I tried to stay there and look for the clear path.”