11/08/2014 6:31PM

Villandry wins River City for LoPresti

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer
Villandry scores a minor upset in winning the Grade 3 River City.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Charlie LoPresti is still pretty good in early November.

Still stung by Wise Dan being sidelined by injury, LoPresti took particular satisfaction in sending out Villandry to a mild upset Saturday in the Grade 3, $114,000 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs. It came one week after LoPresti missed a shot at a Breeders’ Cup three-peat with the reigning two-time Horse of the Year.

“This was nice,” said LoPresti, on hand from his Lexington base to watch Julien Leparoux guide Villandry to a 2 3/4-length score in the 1 1/8-mile turf race. The winner paid $10.60 as second choice in a field of 11 older horses.

On a chilly afternoon, Silver Max led through the first six furlongs as the 9-10 favorite but had no response when Villandry, always within a few lengths of the lead, moved to challenge in upper stretch.

“He’s had some trouble in his last two races,” said LoPresti. “Julien said when he asked him to run, he came running.”

Hamp, a 37-1 shot in from Maryland, rallied from well back to finish second. Under Control was third, Guys Reward was fourth, and Silver Max, who was bidding to surpass the $2-million earnings milestone, faded to sixth.

Villandry “put himself into the race instead of back,” said Leparoux. “Today was a perfect trip. He won the race easy.”

Villandry, a 5-year-old Mr. Greeley gelding, was co-bred and is owned by Gainesway Stable. He finished the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48.54 over a firm course for his fifth win, and first in a stakes, from 18 career starts.

The $2 exacta (4-8) paid $284, the $1 trifecta (4-8-11) returned $944.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (4-8-11-5) was worth $474.30.

Wise Dan was declared from the BC Mile when sidelined last month with an ankle injury. LoPresti is hopeful the gelding can return to racing next year at age 8.