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Can Group Edges Noted in Dramatic Bourbon Finish

Leading up to the Oct. 8 $350,000 Bourbon Stakes (G2T), six of the eleven stakes races opening weekend for the Keeneland fall meet were decided in a photo finish. Staying true to the trend, Can Group  polished off the three-day series of tight finishes with a dramatic nose victory over Noted .

A wide-open overflow field of 12 juveniles lined up for the Bourbon, which has become a traditional prep race for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T). The 1 1/16-mile Bourbon serves a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In event for the Nov. 4 grade 1 at Santa Anita Park.

The Mark Casse-trained Can Group was one of the most overlooked in the field at odds of 27-1. Can Group, owned by D.J. Stable and Cash Is King Stable, had only just put things together in his last start, a 2 1/2-length maiden special weight win at Kentucky Downs where he employed the same blistering late kick that resulted in his Bourbon glory Sunday.

Jockey Francisco Arrieta, who piloted Can Group to victory at Kentucky Downs a month earlier, wasn’t concerned when the colt found himself trailing the charge early. Unhurried and saving ground along the rail, Can Group was more than a dozen lengths behind pacesetters Fortune Sellar and Double Your Money . Favored First World War  looked like a winner at the top of the lane after making a wide move but it was the Todd Pletcher-trained Noted with all the momentum down the stretch that took a narrow lead with a sixteenth to go.

Can Group, blocked behind traffic at the quarter pole, darted through a seam in the final eighth and rallied furiously to get up over Noted.

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“I felt like I crossed the wire in front,” Arrieta said after the Bourbon. “He was rolling. I won with him at Kentucky Downs (maiden special weight Sept. 2) and he came from off the pace very nice, slow, so today I planned the same. Relax, give him time and make one move, and he showed up.”

Due to a timing malfunction there is no official final time listed for the Bourbon at the time of publication.

Bred by Wynnstay and H. Allen Poindexter, Can Group sold for $100,000 to D.J. Stable at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.

Can Group became the fifth graded/group stakes winner this year for second crop sire Good Samaritan  . A dual surface grade 1 winning son of Harlan’s Holiday, Good Samaritan will stand the 2024 breeding season for a fee of $5,000 at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky.

•    Mark Casse has won the Bourbon a record six times. He came close to capturing the Bourbon/Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf double with Airoforce  , who lost by a neck in the 2015 Juvenile Turf to Hit it a Bomb.

•    The Bourbon was the first Keeneland graded stakes win for journeyman jockey Francisco Arrieta, who has bankrolled $28,425,934 in his riding career.

Bob of the Head Gives Committee of One the Indian Summer

Committee of One  stretched his nose out to nab the win in the $250,000 Indian Summer Stakes for owners Kirk and Judy Robison, breaking his maiden in the 5 1/2-furlong turf juvenile test at Keeneland. 

The Steve Asmussen trained son of Mendelssohn   closed in on the wire in 1:02.40 over second runner-up Amidst Waves  for George Weaver, and third-placed Kelsey Danner pupil Shards . A quarter went in :21.40, followed by a half in :44.35, and rounded 5/8 in :56.19.

The Kentucky-bred by Gatewood Bell, Ken Donworth, and Ike VanMeter paid $17.34 for the win with Cristian Torres in the tack.

“I had a very nice trip,” Torres commented. “I knew there was a lot of speed in the race. I was very confident with him and comfortable where he was traveling. As soon as we passed the three-eighths (pole), I asked him to pick it up, and he picked it up beautiful. Down the lane he just kept coming, and he got the job done.”  

Video: Indian Summer S. Presented by Keeneland Select (BT)

Video: Castle & Key Bourbon S. (G2T)

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