05/07/2016 6:38PM

Divisidero delivers another Derby Day win in Woodford

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Justin N. Lane
Divisidero, with Edgar Prado aboard, gets up by a neck over World Approval in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Divisidero loves playing to a crowd, specifically a Kentucky Derby crowd. A little more than a year after winning the American Turf as a 3-year-old on Derby Day in 2015, he returned to Churchill Downs Saturday and wore down World Approval by a neck to win the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in the race before the Kentucky Derby.

As is his custom, Divisidero came from well off the pace. He settled in seventh as Midnight Storm set fractions of 23.09 seconds, 46.32 and 1:10.90, began a rapid advance on the second turn to reach contention, and gradually inched past World Approval in a stretch battle.

The winner, along with the other top finishers, were able to avoid a spill on the far turn in which two riders were unseated after Kasaqui stumbled, and Triple Threat, trailing immediately behind him, was unable to avoid him. Kasaqui fell to the ground, tossing jockey Paco Lopez, and Jose Lezcano went down too after when Triple Threat struck the fallen horse.

Both horses ran on after the incident, and the jockeys said shortly after the spill that they felt okay.

The initial report regarding the two horses suggested they were also lucky to escape serious injury. Keith Latson, on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, said “they are walking just fine, bearing weight on all four limbs comfortably,” and would receive further evaluation by their private veterinarians.

The 6-1 winner and the 10-1 runner-up combined for a $157.80 exacta, surprising the betting public in a deep race that also saw favored Big Blue Kitten, the 2015 champion turf horse, finish a non-threatening fifth in his first race since a third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last Oct. 31.

A 4-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy, Divisidero won for the fourth time in eight starts in winning the Woodford Reserve, nearly doubling his bankroll to $678,850 for owner Gunpowder Farms and trainer Buff Bradley. He raced 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.22 under Edgar Prado on a firm turf course, but dampened by a rainstorm about 20 minutes before the race.

World Approval, who stalked the pace in third before the field hit the stretch, was game in defeat, never quitting after Divisidero inched past him in midstretch.

Manhattan winner Slumber, another making his first start of the year, ran third, a length behind the runner-up and 1 3/4 lengths in front of fourth-place Tourist.