Updated on 10/09/2012 12:44PM

Hoosier Park: Neck 'n Neck overcomes wide trip to win Indiana Derby

Linscott Photography
Neck 'n Neck wins the Indiana Derby, giving jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. a sweep of Hoosier's two biggest stakes of the day..

Trainer Ian Wilkes’s home track is Churchill Downs, and the good 3-year-old he trains, Neck ‘n Neck, likes it there, too. Before Saturday, Neck ‘n Neck won 3 of 5  starts at Churchill and 0  of 7 elsewhere. But the track at Hoosier Park evidently suits him. Rallying from 10th in an 11-horse field, Neck ‘n Neck scored a one-length victory in the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby, the biggest win of his career.

It wasn’t a bad day for jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., either. Hernandez picked up the mount on Grace Hall, who powerfully won the Grade 2, $200,000 Indiana Oaks the race before the derby, and was aboard Neck n’ Neck for the first time Saturday.

Neck n’ Neck showed himself a 3-year-old worth watching when he won the Matt Winn Stakes by more than seven lengths in June – at Churchill, of course. He was a decent second behind Alpha in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga but,  Wilkes said, never really picked up the bit when finishing sixth in the Travers Stakes on Aug. 25.Back at Churchill shortly thereafter, Neck ‘n Neck soon began working sharply again, and he was at his best Saturday.   

Fed Biz, the 6-5 favorite, broke alertly and alternated for the lead with longshot Junebugred. The pair, pursued by Tritap, going their first quarter-mile in 23.60 seconds and the opening half-mile in 48.32. The main action, though, began unfolding as the bunched field hit the far turn. Super Derby winner Bourbon Courage found himself in traffic, as did several other horses, but Neck ‘n Neck avoided the scrum, albeit while losing ground. Leveling off nicely once into the stretch, he took aim at Fed Biz and ran him down in the final furlong. Bourbon Courage hunted a spot between horses for much of the stretch, finally swinging belatedly to the far outside and coming with a big finish to nip Fed Biz for the place. Behind Fed Biz came Morgan’s Guerrilla, Afford, Tritap, O’Prado Again, Easter Gift, Junebugred, Second City, and Stealcase. Winning time for 1 1/16  miles on fast dirt was 1:42.71. Grace Hall, who looked awesome, ran the same distance in 1:41.85 while geared down late.

Wilkes -- who trains Neck ‘n Neck, a son of Flower Alley, for owner-breeder A. Stevens Miles – said after the race that Neck ‘n Neck was not under consideration for a Breeders’ Cup start.

Five More than 1 year ago
After the parade, I knew that Fedbiz would flop, just like Baffert/Bejarano did all day at Hoosier, I loaded on NnN. I got mine.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
this is a nice horse,thought he would win this and he did,but then again i thought he was going to win last time and he tthrew a dud.
Mike Lee More than 1 year ago
The top five finishers in this race ran really well,which included a 50/1 Morgan's Guerilla and the 90 something to 1 Afford...A horse I was really looking forward to see run well,Easter Gift,ran like a drunk guy...all over the track from start to finish...think the jockey was hanging on for his life!...Congrats to Neck N Neck and his connections,should earn a nice beyer for this performance. ML
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Wilkes' patience is paying off.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Looks like horseman win the battles of attrition. Nice colt.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
What a stretch run. Neck 'n Neck was flying out in the middle of the track. Flower Alley's offspring comes through. Congratulations to Neck 'n Neck and to his connections. Great win.
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
So much for Fed Biz,the super horse, LOL. The way some people worship Baffert is silly.His other horses crapped out also
Todd Elliot More than 1 year ago
you must have missed coil winning at santa anita then,,,trained by baffert
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
I was talking about the 4 faves he shipped to Hoosier.
David Robinson More than 1 year ago
i love it when monday morning qbs chime in, especially those who know nothing about what their talking about. fed biz did not run badly at all. he was the most inexperienced runner in the field, was a first time shipper on a strange track, and it was his "bounce" race if he was going to have won. on top of that he was dueled every step of the way 4 across the track by a bunch of dead rats whose only missin was to be competitive for a fe4w furlongs. he still put everyone away and was barely nosed out for 2nd. if these 3 face each other again, i know who i would make the favorite. and besides that he was overbet to boot. only a sucker would have considered playing him at 3-5, which is what he was until the bell rang when he drifted up to 6-5. as far as his others, i dont think anyone thoiught that they were solid in their races. i know i hated hollywood and ellafitz and only used eden because i bought the race. but some people apparrently have an even bigger hard on for bashing baffert as others do for worshipping him. jealous much?
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
Are you related to BB,or just have a crush on him. 50% of your posts are just to defend him. Weird
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Sat.Customer are you listening? Thank you David Robinson there will always be a couch potato like Mr Customer who pipes in from the halls of Ignorance. Forgive him for he knows not what he sayeth! You embarrassed the family,.. again Sat.Customer.
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
Who are you,mule ?
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Fed Biz hadn't faced any of the West's top 3 year olds. He was injured after an allowance race in which he beat Consulado and Blueskiesandrainbows, came back and beat a solid Jimmy Creed at a distance beyond that horse's best. No graded stakes starts for Fed Biz. He went into the Indiana Derby with class questions and not a whole lot of foundation. For me, the jury was still out on him, and he was facing a bunch of solid, in-form pros. As for Baffert's other runners, Ellafitz and Eden's Moon are nead-the-lead types who can't pass and come apart when pressured(and both had been taking advantage of a subpar distaff division in Cali), and Hoorayforhollywood is a high end allowance horse, not a real stakes horse. I am certainly not shocked Baffert went 0 for 4.
volponisingle More than 1 year ago
like it, actually the i-2 finishers were my top two choices!