10/01/2011 5:30PM

Hoosier Park: Wilburn cuts corner to blow open Indiana Derby

Linscott Photography
Wilburn wins the Indiana Derby following a ground-saving ride by Julien Leparoux.

ANDERSON, Ind. – Wilburn moved through a rail opening at a critical time and proceeded to draw away from Shackleford down the stretch to post a 4 3/4-length victory Saturday in the 17th running of the Grade 2, $510,900 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.

Giving jockey Julien Leparoux a sweep of the both the Oaks and Derby, Wilburn returned $7.20 as third choice in a field of seven 3-year-olds. Leparoux also captured the previous race on a 12-race card, the Grade 2 Indiana Oaks, aboard Juanita.

Owned by Stonestreet Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, Wilburn quickly negated his outside post when Leparoux maneuvered him to an inside stalking spot by the time the field hit the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile Derby.

“There was an opening [on the inside] all the time,” said Leparoux. “But I didn’t want to move too early.”

Approaching the quarter pole is when Wilburn began his surge, and after straightening for home, he zipped through, then quickly put the race to rest while continuing to hug the rail. Shackleford, the 11-10 favorite, was another 1 3/4 lengths before Caleb’s Posse, the 2-1 second choice.

“I took a shot going up in there, and he took off,” said Leparoux. “Good horses respond like that.”

Before an ontrack crowd estimated at 8,800, and on a bright but chilly late afternoon, longshots Decisive Moment and Little Drama went to the early lead, with Shackleford, the 2011 Preakness winner, poised to their outside. On the far turn, Shackleford went past them both, only to have Wilburn suddenly shoot through to seize command.

“He saw the other horse and really dug down,” said Jesus Castanon, who rode Shackleford. “He ran good. He’s back to his old self, I think.”

Shackleford ran a dismal eighth in his previous race, the Aug. 27 Travers. “He seemed to run his race,” said trainer Dale Romans. “I’m pretty well satisfied. We’ll have to see what we’re going to do about the Breeders’ Cup.”

Assistant trainer Darren Fleming was on hand to deputize for Asmussen in saddling Wilburn, who had been based in recent months in New York but now will move to Churchill Downs in preparation for a possible run in the Breeders’ Cup. Fleming said a decision on a future race for Wilburn will be made by Asmussen, and Barbara Banke, the owner of Stonestreet.

Wilburn, a Kentucky-bred colt by Bernardini, now has won 5 of 8 starts. The Indiana Derby was his third straight win, following a Monmouth Park allowance and the ungraded Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx Racing. He earned $300,409, more than doubling his original bankroll to $586,515. He was timed in 1:43.60.

After Caleb’s Posse, the order was Windswept, Decisive Moment, Friends Place, and Little Drama. Populist Politics was an early scratch.

Indiana Oaks: Juanita all the way

Trainer Mike Maker continued his torrid streak Saturday when he sent out the former claimer Juanita to a dominating front-running score in the Grade 2, $205,100 Indiana Oaks at Hoosier Park.

With Julien Leparoux aboard, Juanita went right to the front and never looked back, winning by 4 3/4 lengths over Withgreatpleasure in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies. She returned $12.60 as third choice in a field of five.

Daisy Devine, the 3-1 second choice, was third, while A Z Warrior, still seeking her first win since the 2010 Frizette, was fourth at 4-5.

"I was just a passenger," said Leparoux. "She really wanted to run today."

Last Saturday, Maker won five races at Turfway Park, including three in the Kentucky Cup series, while also sending out the winner of the Ontario Derby. The 42-year-old trainer is based primarily at the Trackside training center in Louisville, Ky.

Juanita, a Kentucky-bred by Mineshaft, was claimed for $25,000 in March by William and Graydon Patterson. The filly now has won 3 of 4 races since then, with the Indy Oaks her first stakes triumph in 11 overall starts. She finished in 1:45.20 over a fast track.

Nasty Rumor brought up the rear in the Indiana Oaks, while Perfectly Candid was scratched in favor of a race earlier in the day.