09/07/2017 7:06PM

Sir Dudley Digges prevails in Old Friends Stakes

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Reed Palmer Photography/Kentucky Downs
Sir Dudley Digges (red blinkers) returned $11 as the third choice in Thursday's Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs.

FRANKLIN, Ky. – Thursday’s $96,540 Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs proved a friendly stage for Sir Dudley Digges when eight scratches reduced the field to six. Racing against a group partially depleted by horses re-entered in the $600,000, Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup on Saturday at Kentucky Downs, late-running Sir Dudley Digges stalked a slow pace in fourth and, after tipping out at the top of the lane, wore down stubborn front-runner Thatcher Street to post a head victory.

He appeared to be on the verge of a winning margin in midstretch, but seemed to wait on Thatcher Street in the final furlong.

“I just had to stay after him,” said winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione. “I knew I had the horse to go on with it. He was just being a little stubborn.”

Thatcher Street, under Chris Landeros, proved a clear-cut second, finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of third-place Gliding Alone. The latter was followed by Italian Charm, One Mean Man, and even-money favorite Chocolate Ride.

The winner, a 4-year-old son of Gio Pointi who took the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine last summer, scored his third victory from five starts this year. He raced about one mile and 70 yards in 1:48.43 over turf rated good and returned $11.

Thursday’s race marked the third running of the Old Friends, a race named in honor of the retirement farm by the same name based in Georgetown, Ky., that has a satellite facility at Kentucky Downs. By virtue of winning the stakes race, Sir Dudley Digges earned a place at Old Friends upon his retirement.

Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey would likely prefer to postpone that retirement as long as possible with a successful racing career, or even to make Sir Dudley Digges an eventual stallion, though the horse will likely need to capture graded stakes to assure a lucrative stud career.

Wagering handle on Thursday’s card was the second highest in Kentucky Downs history with more than $5.4 million wagered, and was easily the highest weekday handle at the track.