11/25/2012 5:50PM

Churchill Downs: Keep Up upsets River City at 30-1 under hot jockey Mena


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Capping a huge weekend for jockey Miguel Mena, Keep Up swept past a gang of leaders inside the sixteenth pole to post a 30-1 upset Sunday in the Grade 3, $115,700 River City Handicap on the closing-day program of the 21-day Churchill Downs fall meet.

Owned by Mill Ridge Farm and trained by Alex Clarkson, Keep Up returned $62.60 for winning his stakes debut in the 35th running of the River City, a 1 1/8-mile turf fixture. Well back early in the field of 12, the 5-year-old horse rallied best of all to prevail by a half-length over Boisterous, the 9-10 favorite. Skyring, a 50-1 shot, was just another head back in third and Swift Warrior another neck back in fourth.

Mena, the 26-year-old Peruvian who will begin riding at Fair Grounds this week with the conclusion of Churchill, swept the last three stakes of this meet. He won the twin 2-year-old stakes, the Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club, here Saturday with Seaneen Girl and Uncaptured, respectively.

“He was far back, but it was a pretty solid pace and he was traveling nice,” said Mena of Keep Up. “I didn’t want to rush him off his feet. I rode him with patience and from the quarter pole he flew home. It was an awesome weekend, especially to do it here. A few years ago, I had some issues and I appreciate the horsemen giving me great support. I’m just trying to do the right thing now and keep my family going.”

There was some irony involved in Keep Up defeating Boisterous, who shipped in from New York in peak form as the 124-pound highweight for trainer Shug McGaughey. Early in his career, Keep Up was trained by none other than McGaughey before John Chandler turned him over to Clarkson following a lengthy layoff. In addition, McGaughey and Chandler co-bred the horse.

Boisterous, always near the pace under Jose Lezcano, was racing nearest the hedge among those fighting for the lead in deep stretch when Keep Up came surging past.

Keep Up, by Unbridled’s Song, had won 4 of 10 prior starts and was coming off a narrow victory over millionaire Noble’s Promise in a one-mile turf allowance at Churchill just nine days beforehand with Mena aboard. He carried 115 pounds, nine fewer than Boisterous, and finished in 1:48.05 over a firm course.

The $2 exacta (10-2) paid $180.20; the $1 trifecta (10-2-3) returned $3,239.30; and the dime superfecta (10-2-3-9) was worth $3,138.70.