Updated on 09/16/2011 8:48AM

Soto gives Dickinson Derby dreams


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Michael Dickinson earned his lofty reputation in racing as a trainer of older grass horses. So after Soto stayed unbeaten Saturday by defeating 11 other 2-year-olds in the 76th running of the $231,200 at Churchill Downs, Dickinson poked some fun at himself.

"What, this wasn't a grass race for 4-year-olds?" he asked. "How can I win a dirt race with a 2-year-old?"

The most pressing question that reporters had for Dickinson soon after Soto scored his late-running, one-length victory in the Grade 2 KJC Stakes is how he plans to prepare Soto for the Kentucky Derby next May.

"We haven't gotten that far," said Dickinson, who normally trains all his horses at his Tapeta Farm in northeast Maryland.

Soto, a 6-1 shot ridden by Larry Melancon, benefited from a rapid pace set by Cat Genius, the 2-1 favorite who blazed to the early lead after a stumbling break from post 12. As Cat Genius faltered on the far turn of the 1 1/16-mile race, the rest of the field began coming in waves - first Champali and Domestic Dispute, then Most Feared and Ten Cents a Shine.

Finally, Soto had the most run on the outside, gliding past Ten Cents a Shine, a 14-1 shot, in the final sixteenth. Most Feared finished third, another 1 1/4 lengths back.

Soto is owned by the family of Baron George Von Ullman, owners of the most prestigious racing operation in Germany, an outfit that has won the German Derby 17 times. Soto is their first horse based in America.

Soto, a Kentucky-bred by Dehere, returned $14.60 after finishing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.67 over a fast track. His KJC win was preceded by a maiden win at Delaware and an allowance win at Pimlico.

Attendance on the closing-day program of the Churchill fall meet was 9,637.

My Boston Gal stays unbeaten

The KJC was run an hour after My Boston Gal also stayed unbeaten, in three starts, by winning the for 2-year-old fillies and giving trainer Carl Nafzger his second straight win in the Grade 2 race.

Although perhaps not as flashy as in her first two races, heavily favored My Boston Gal was easily the best in the $219,600 Golden Rod. Ridden again by Calvin Borel, My Boston Gal looped three front-runners on the final turn before steadily edging away to win by 3 1/4 lengths over 14-1 shot Holiday Lady.

My Boston Gal, a Boston Harbor filly owned by a four-way partnership, returned $3 after finishing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45. My Trusty Cat finished third, a neck behind Holiday Lady in a field of seven.

"She seemed a little confused out there, [it] being her first try at two turns and all," said assistant Ian Wilkes, who saddled My Boston Gal in the absence of Nafzger, who watched the race from Florida. "She had to run harder today. But it was a nice race, a good race. The experience should help her. We'll take her to Florida, give her a little break, then get her ready for the big races next spring."

Nafzger won the 2001 Golden Rod with Belterra.

* Ken McPeek saddled Colonial Bay ($9) to a narrow victory in the sixth race, making him the leading trainer at the meet with 15 wins. Nafzger was second with 14, followed by Steve Asmussen with 13. The title was the first for McPeek at any track.

* With seven winners, Ken and Sarah Ramsey extended their Churchill record for consecutive titles as leading owner. The Ramseys have won or tied for leading owner at each of the last six Churchill meets.

* Four of six was good enough to win the pick six Saturday, when there was a mandatory payout because of the close of the meet. Each winning $2 ticket paid $398.

* For the second straight year, A Storm Is Brewing ($6.60), trained by Jere R. Smith Jr., won the final leg of the Trails End Championship, a two-mile starter-allowance.