05/05/2012 12:44PM

Churchill Downs: Great Attack comes on strong to win Turf Sprint

Tom Keyser
Great Attack (left), with Joel Rosario riding, comes on late to win the Turf Sprint over Bridgetown.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Great Attack has tended to be a prototypical Wesley Ward horse, with speed aplenty through the early stages. But the speed that Great Attack put on awesome display Saturday was of the late variety when the 5-year-old horse, well back early, flew past favored Bridgetown in the final 40 yards to capture the Grade 3, $150,350 Twin Spires Turf Sprint on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

With Joel Rosario riding for Ward and owner Houyhnhnm Stable, Great Attack returned $10.80. Bridgetown, always prominent as the 3-2 favorite under John Velazquez, finished three-quarters of a length behind the winner and another two lengths before Cactus Sun, a 25-1 shot. Great Mills, up on the pace from the start of the five-furlong turf race, faded late to be fourth in a field of 12 turf sprinters.

Great Attack, a Florida-bred horse by Greatness, finished in 56.61 seconds over a course rated good. He now has won 6 of 17 starts.

The victory capped a terrific spring for Ward, the well-traveled former Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey who has been based in Florida and California for much of his career. Ward was the leading trainer for the first time at the recently ended spring meet at Keeneland.

“We’ve always liked this horse,” said Ward. “For him to win on Derby Day is a great thrill after all the good things that happened for us over at Keeneland. Joel rode a tremendous race, getting him to relax early the way he did and then flying late. We’re really happy.”

Bridgetown, returning from a layoff of nearly nine months for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez, took control from the start, clinging to the rail while repelling all comers. That is, until Great Attack, farther back than normal, came with a crazy run down the center of the course to prevail.

The $2 exacta paid $32, the $1 trifecta returned $208.40, and the $1 superfecta came back $670.70.