05/06/2017 3:56PM

Pat Day Mile victory a fine consolation prize for Wild Shot

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Barbara D. Livingston
Wild Shot and jockey Corey Lanerie win the Pat Day Mile by four lengths.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Rusty Arnold had been hoping for months to win on Kentucky Derby Day with Wild Shot. The thing was, he was thinking the Derby itself, and not the Pat Day Mile.

Still, the consolation prize before a huge crowd Saturday at Churchill Downs wasn’t unpalatable. Taking full control after the field turned for home, Wild Shot proceeded to blow away 11 other 3-year-olds in a four-length triumph in the 93rd running of the Grade 3, $250,000 Pat Day Mile.

Bred and owned by the rejuvenated Calumet Farm, which was represented by three starters in the 143rd Derby on Saturday – Hence, Sonneteer, and Patch – Wild Shot returned $19.40 after finishing the one-turn mile in 1:35.67 over a muddy, drying-out track. Corey Lanerie was aboard.

“I just patiently let him do what he wanted to do,” said Lanerie, the perennial leading rider at Churchill in recent years. “It was a dream ride. When I called on him, he had plenty left.”

Always in a comfortable rhythm when close to an early pace set in 22.24 and 44.79 seconds by Uncontested, Lanerie eased Wild Shot up to the lead without asking leaving the turn, then quickly put the race away. No Dozing, well back early, rallied widest of all to be second as the lukewarm 5-2 favorite, finishing 1 1/2 lengths before Uncontested. You’re to Blame closed belatedly to be fourth, another head back.

Wild Shot became a viable Derby prospect when finishing second to McCraken here last fall in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. The Trappe Shot colt then ran twice at Tampa Bay Downs, finishing fourth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and third in the Tampa Bay Derby, before returning home to run in the April 8 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, armed with a sufficient number of points to advance to the Derby with one more solid effort.

Alas, he finished last of seven in the Blue Grass after contesting the early pace with the upset winner, Irap.

 

“We tried the Derby trail, and he just didn’t like the two turns, so we backed him up,” said Arnold, a trainer since 1975. “His last work was brilliant, and he’d done really well.”

Arnold said the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, a seven-furlong race on the June 10 Belmont Stakes undercard, is the likely next target for Wild Shot, now a two-time winner from eight career starts.

The $2 exacta (8-5) paid $72.20, the $1 trifecta (8-5-4) returned $163.70, and the $1 superfecta (8-5-4-10) was worth $1,502.60.

After the top four, the order was Sonic Mule, Warrior’s Club, Local Hero, Colonelsdarktemper, Rapid Dial, Bitumen, Excitations, and Bobby On Fleek. Greeley and Ben was an early scratch.

This was actually just the third running of the Pat Day Mile. It replaced the Derby Trial, which had been run until 2014 on the Saturday before the Derby. The six-furlong William Walker Stakes then replaced the Trial on the Churchill stakes calendar.