10/30/2016 6:17PM

Warrior's Club cashes in for Churchill Racing Club group in Spendthrift Stallion Stakes

Coady Photography
Warrior's Club, with Miguel Mena aboard, wins for the first time in six career starts in the Spendthrift Stallion Stakes.

Warrior’s Club won  his maiden in the inaugural running of the $300,000 Spendthrift Sire Stakes on Sunday at Churchill Downs – a result that had the ripple effect of pleasing a number of people.

Warrior’s Club became a first-season stakes winner for the nascent Churchill Downs Racing Club partnership, a group launched by the track as an opportunity for fans to experience Thoroughbred ownership with minimal risk. Along with Warrior’s Club, the group owns the juvenile filly Dial Me, both trained by Hall of Famer Wayne Lukas; the two 200-person partnerships both sold out within days at $500 a share. From the looks of it, many members of Warrior’s Club’s partnership were in attendance Sunday in Louisville, as evidenced by an extremely crowded win photo.

"I’ve had some great moments in racing before, so it’s exciting for me but nothing like it is for those people," Lukas said.

Not in that photo, but surely also celebrating, was John O'Meara, who bred Warrior's Club, a son of Spendthrift Farm stallion Warrior's Reward, in Kentucky. The Spendthrift Sire Stakes, the latest breeder incentive spearheaded by the Kentucky-based operation, was restricted to juveniles sired by current or former Spendthrift stallions, with the $300,000 purse split between the owners and breeders of the placed horses. The Churchill Racing Club’s cut of the $150,000 distributed to owners was $86,490, while O’Meara’s cut is $60,000.

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Warrior's Club ($13.60) was winless in five prior starts coming into Sunday's race, but had officially placed in three of those, including a solid runner-up effort at Keeneland last out. The colt was away alertly under Miguel Mena and emerged from between horses to assume command by the time the field reached the end of the chute onto the main track. Warrior’s Club set smart fractions of  23.10 and 45.90 seconds while hounded by Cool Arrow to his flank, and those top two never changed positions. Kept to task with right-handed urging from Mena, Warrior’s Club easily held Cool Arrow at bay through the stretch en route to a 2 3/4-length victory, stopping the clock in 1:23.31 for the seven furlongs. It was another 5 3/4 lengths back to Lawton in third.

"The horses that had been beating him are really quality horses," Lukas said. "We didn’t give a lot for this horse (when privately purchasing him earlier this year), but that doesn’t mean a thing. When they can run, they can run but the horses that had beaten him cost a lot and had great pedigrees so he’s a blue-collar horse. He fits the scenario of the club perfectly. He’s kind of an over-achiever and he’s doing his job and that’s all you can say."

The Churchill Racing Club will get a chance to go after a bigger prize at its home track next out, as Lukas said their colt will target the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in late November at Churchill Downs.