WinStar Farm LLC and Stonestreet Stables' Carpe Diem certainly lived up to his $1.6 million dollar price tag as he pulled away from the 12-horse field in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Breeders' Cup Futurity for two-year-olds at Keeneland by 6 1/4 lengths.
Carpe Diem will not have to worry about where he will go next as this was a "Win & You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile next month. The Todd Pletcher charge was also the next promising juvenile to capture 10 points toward the 2015 Kentucky Derby.
"He went from Saratoga to here. (In March), he was in a two-year-old sale. Everything that's been thrown at him he's handled so far," said Elliot Walden, president/CEO and racing manager of WinStar Farm, when asked about handling the ship to California and the new surroundings to prepare for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Carpe Diem attended the pace four wide as the previously undefeated colt Conquest Tsunami posted an opening quarter in :23 2/5. Mr. Z contested the pace on the inside for the first two furlongs before fading back to fourth, while Conquest Tsunami continued lead the field through a half-mile in :48.
Carpe Diem drew even with the pacesetter after running four furlongs and put his head in front around the far turn, disposing of that foe. As the son of Giant's Causeway turned for home jockey John Velazquez let him loose, and by then it was just a matter of who would round out the order of finish as the chestnut colt widened his margin in the stretch.
"He was a little difficult in the gate," Velazquez said. "I tried to settle him behind horses and teach him a little bit. He got a little aggressive and I didn't want to fight him so I just let him be what he wanted to be in the backstretch and then he settled very well. Once he got head and head with that other horse, he got on the bit again. He was going good the whole way."
Mr. Z rallied after falling back early to grab second and was 5 3/4 lengths clear of the Iroquois runner-up, Bold Conquest in third, who was a length ahead of fourth-place finisher Tough Customer. Keen Ice, Conquest Tsunami, Firespike, Sharm, Hashtag Bourbon, W V Jetsetter, Dekabrist and Ike Walker completed the order under the wire.
"The winner made his winning move on the backside," said Jon Court, rider of runner-up Mr. Z. "He was out there all alone and wasn't coming back to anyone. I had a good trip, but we weren't going to catch the winner."
"My horse didn't break very sharp then the speed came back and slowed down on the backside and he made a huge run," said Rosie Napravnik, jockey of third-place finisher Bold Conquest. "It was a kind of a weird race the way it set up. They ran out of the gate real fast and then they slowed it down right in our face on the backside. My horse was kind of stop and go. It wasn't a real smooth trip but he made a heck of a run around the turn."
Carpe Diem covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43 1/5 over the fast main track as the 2-1 favorite and rewarded his loyal supporters with $6.80 for the score.
Carpe Diem was exiting a 2 1/2-length victory in his racing debut, going 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga on September 1. He grabbed $300,000 for his stakes bow and now has $349,800 in his bank account from just two career starts.
"He ran great at Saratoga and then to come here in a Grade 1 like this and put it all together like that around two turns, it's very exciting," Walden said. "This horse is a beautiful horse, he's got a great pedigree and we hoping to make a stallion. I think we did that today."
Bred in Kentucky by Coffee Pot Stable, Carpe Diem is out of the Grade 2-placed Unbridled's Song mare Rebridled Dreams, who is out of multiple stakes winner Key Cents. The chestnut colt is a half-brother to J.B.'s Thunder, who captured the 2010 Breeder's Futurity over the Polytrack, as well as multiple English Group 3-placed Doncaster Rover. His female family also includes multiple Grade 3 scorer Highland Penny.