Woodford Racing's Ticonderoga ran off the bench and into the winner's circle March 4 at Gulfstream Park, taking the $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3T) with a powerful rally.
Racing for the first time since a fourth in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T), 3-year-old Ticonderoga picked up his first graded score. The Tapit colt was second in the Dixiana Bourbon Stakes (G2T) at Keeneland after breaking his maiden, and could return to the Lexington oval for the April 7 Transylvania Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G3T) en route to an eventual target of the July 8 Belmont Derby Invitational (G1T).
"We're going to try to stretch him out eventually," Brown said. "If he can go a mile and a quarter, the Belmont Derby would be the goal."
Off a step slow from the outside post in the 1 1/16-mile Palm Beach under first-time jockey Joel Rosario, Ticonderoga was content to settle at the back of the pack while Sailing Home showed the way through opening fractions of :23.34, :47.58, and 1:11.22. Kitten's Cat was in close persuit and took over around the turn for home, but Ticonderoga was mounting a bid from second-to-last in the field of nine.
“He broke fine and he kind of settled himself," Rosario said. "I think that’s the way he likes to run. I just gave him a chance ... stayed inside and saved a little ground, and it opened up. He was just much the best horse today. He’s a very talented horse.”
Shifted three wide by Rosario and with significant ground to make up on Kitten's Cat, Ticonderoga powered down the stretch through a 1:34.62 mile and hit the wire clear by a length. Kitten's Cat held second, while Snap Decision got third. The final time was 1:40.38 on firm turf.
“I’m so proud of him," Brown said. "He’s kind of a quirky horse. He was tough to figure out. We’ve made some changes with equipment. I’m just proud of the horse. He’s really matured mentally. It’s the first time Joel has been on him. I gave him a little history about him and he executed it perfectly."
Ticonderoga was bred in Kentucky by Bryant H. Prentice III and is the first foal out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Johar mare Keertana, who in 2017 delivered a War Front colt. Ticonderoga was a $850,000 purchase from the Denali Stud consignment to the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale. He improved his record to two wins and two seconds from five starts, for earnings of $221,120.
From the Bloodhorse.com