05/06/2017 5:36PM

Divisidero like death and taxes in winning Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

Debra A. Roma
Divisidero, ridden by Julien Leparoux, rallied from last to score a repeat victory in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – There are few givens in horse racing, but apparently, Divisidero winning a graded stakes race on Kentucky Derby Day is one of them. For the third straight year, Divisidero did just that, taking Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in the race before the Kentucky Derby.

It marked his second consecutive victory in the race and came two years after his triumph in the American Turf on Derby Day. And though he ran well in those races, his performance on Saturday may have been his best yet.

Last in the field of 11 as Beach Patrol set a slow pace over a tiring turf course with a half-mile in 50.69 seconds and a six furlongs in 1:15.45, he was swung to the outside in the stretch by jockey Julien Leparoux and advanced to second in the span of a furlong, then wore down a stubborn runner-up in Beach Patrol in the closing eighth to win by a half-length.

On wet ground, “you want your horse to be relaxed and make a nice run,” Leparoux said. “Because the pace was so slow, we all bunched up so we were not too far behind. When I came out, he kicked home super.”

Divisidero joined select company in winning his second consecutive Turf Classic: Einstein, who won in 2008-09, and two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, victorious in 2013-14.

“Derby Day has really been good to us,” winning trainer Buff Bradley said.

A 5-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy, Divisidero raced 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.42 over a course officially rated “good” but which many jockeys described as soft throughout the day. He paid $9 as the second wagering choice behind 3-1 favorite Beach Patrol.

Beach Patrol battled bravely in defeat, though he again settled for second, a familiar finishing position for him since he won the Grade 1 Secretariat last summer.

“The horse that won today ran the best race,” his trainer, Chad Brown, said. “He ran terrific, and our horse ran great too.”

The top two were well clear of the rest, with the slow-starting Oscar Nominated 2 1/2 lengths behind Beach Patrol in third.

Divisidero became a millionaire Saturday, picking up $291,400 for first place to increase his earnings to $1,047,950 for owner Gunpowder Farms.