Creator pulls away to win $1 million Arkansas Derby

Hot Springs (Ark)—Steve Asmussen wasn’t completely sure what to expect from Arkansas Derby entrant Creator after a solid but not spectacular start to the 3-year-old’s campaign.
The trainer couldn’t have been happier with how the colt closed out his second victory of the year Saturday, emerging from the field with a furious final kick on the home stretch to win the $1 million Kentucky Derby prep race.
The win seemingly gives Asmussen two of the top contenders for next month’s Kentucky Derby, with Gun Runner entering Saturday atop the race’s qualifying standings and Creator earning 100 points with his victory.
‘’With Gun Runner and with Creator, what a blessed position we’re in, to have the pedigrees and individuals like that and the opportunity with it,’’ Asmussen said. ‘’We’re very fortunate and we take it very seriously and will do our best possible with it.’’
It also gives the trainer his third Arkansas Derby victory, second only to Todd Pletcher’s four victories in Oaklawn Park’s signature race.
And while the win wasn’t completely unexpected, it was somewhat of a surprise after an overlooked Creator finished third in last month’s Rebel Stakes and went off at 11-1 on Saturday.
Overlooked or not before the race, the colt – who has yet to finish lower than third in any of his three races this year – showed the strongest finishing kick after running in last for much of the 1 1/8-mile race.
‘’The horse is getting good at the right time,’’ Asmussen said. ‘’It took a while for the light to turn on for him. His last two races have been very impressive. I love how he came home and went for the wire today.’’
While Asmussen celebrated his stable of Kentucky Derby hopefuls, pre-race favorite Cupid disappointed with by finishing 10th.
The Bob Baffert-trained colt was fast out of the gate and settled into second for much of the race behind Gettsburg. However, the early pace took its toll on the Rebel Stakes winner – who entered Saturday as a virtual Kentucky Derby lock with 50 qualifying points.—AFP

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