04/29/2017 10:06PM

Lezcano works on The Money Monster to engineer William Walker upset

Coady Photography
Jose Lezcano guides the 3-year-old The Money Monster to victory in the William Walker.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Bill Mott has been training for nearly a half-century now, and he says he can’t remember having a horse as laid-back as The Money Monster.

“He’ll absolutely pull himself up if you don’t keep working on him,” Mott said Saturday night after Jose Lezcano rode The Money Monster to perfection in a mild upset in the $100,000 William Walker Stakes, the opening-night feature as Churchill Downs opened its 38-day spring meet. “Jose is strong and aggressive and kept after him tonight.”

With heavily favored Syndergaard among the vanquished, The Money Monster returned $17 after rallying from fourth and completing six furlongs in 1:10.70 over a fast track.

Classic Cotton finished second but was disqualified to fifth for interfering on the backstretch with Syndergaard, the 1-5 favorite who was away a bit tardily, then was checked by John Velazquez when in tight quarters along the rail nearing the half-mile pole.

En Hanse was awarded second, with Conquest Wildcat elevated to third and Syndergaard to fourth.

The Money Monster was making his fourth career start in the Walker. He won his first two races for prior connections, and then was purchased privately by R.A. Hill Stable and BlackRidge Stables. The colt then pulled himself up in the March 11 Tampa Bay Derby in his first start for Mott.

“We hadn’t had the colt that long and didn’t know him,” said Mott. “We found out he’s got a real peculiar disposition. You’ve really got to make him work.”

Mott, 63, began training at age 15 in his native South Dakota. He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1998 and is the all-time leading trainer at Churchill in both stakes (92) and overall races (698).

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The $2 exacta (4-3) paid $150.40, the $1 trifecta (4-3-6) returned $210.90, and the 10-cent superfecta (4-3-6-1) was worth $32.30.

Earlier Saturday, Finley’sluckycharm ($2.40) made a successful return from a four-month layoff in winning the $65,340 Roxelana Stakes at six furlongs.

Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., the 4-year-old Finley’sluckycharm prevailed by three-quarters of a length over Athena when finishing in 1:09.39 in her first start since finishing second in the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita on Dec.26.

“I’m glad to get this behind us,” said Bret Calhoun, who trains Finley’sluckycharm for Carl Moore. “This is about as far as she needed to go tonight. Brian said she got a little tired, which I expected.”

Calhoun said the filly’s next start probably will come in the Grade 3 Winning Colors on May 27 at Churchill, and then “obviously we’re hoping to get back on a Grade 1 type of schedule with her.”

Attendance on a warm, humid night was 20,949. Two more Downs After Dark cards are set for the spring meet, on June 17 and 30.

Churchill is dark Sunday and Monday, with action resuming Tuesday for a five-day week that ends with Kentucky Derby Day.