Ive Struck a Nerve struck every contender's hopes down, pulling the monster upset at the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds Race Course.
A son of Yankee Gentleman out of the Cryptoclearance mare Ranaway, Ive Struck a Nerve was the ninth betting choice at 135.20-1 odds and was ridden perfectly by jockey James Graham and taking the winner's purse from the $400,000 prize.
Proud Strike, under Gary Stevens, took command of the race at the start from his inside post and led Code West and Agent to the first quarter-pole.
Ive Struck a Nerve settled at the back of the 12-horse field early in the race and was beating only favorite Normandy Invasion—who was off to a slow start—after the half-mile pole.
Second betting choice, Oxbow (9-2), was expected to go to the lead early, but jockey Jon Court had to bide his time from 10th post position and slowly edged forward taking the lead after the three-quarter-mile pole over Code West.
Graham queued Ive Struck a Nerve to start his approach from ninth place as they started to round the far turn, saving ground on the rail while Normandy Invasion had to take the wide trip around the turn.
As they turned for home, Oxbow was on the lead over Code West to the inside and Mylute to the outside with Palace Malice full out approaching from fourth place.
At this point, Graham made the winning move as he swung Ive Struck a Nerve six wide, just to the outside of Palace Malice, and had a clear path to challenge the leaders.
Normandy Invasion was behind Ive Struck a Nerve in eight place running seven wide, but at that point, he was hitting his best stride.
It turned into a four-horse race as Oxbow started to weaken approaching the final furlong, Code West was coming back on the rail, Palace Malice charging to his outside and one lane farther was Ive Struck a Nerve making his final move on the clear.
When they hit the wire, it was Ive Struck a Nerve pulling up the shocker by a nose over Code West, who gamely came back on the rail; then it was half a length back to Palace Malice, who nosed out Oxbow for third.
Normandy Invasion found his best stride late, finishing a length behind Oxbow.
Raise your hand if you had Ive Struck a Nerve on your bets; you got a return of $272.40 for every $2 bet you made and have bragging rights on the handicapping challenges.
Code West finished a game second and almost had the win but was never able to see Ive Struck a Nerve, who was coming five wide and caught him at the wire.
Palace Malice looked like he would rally past the leaders in mid stretch but finished with a slow charge that fell short.
Oxbow, might have been compromised by the post position, but he was able to eventually get to the lead and unfortunately weakened slightly in the final 100 meters of the race.
The favorite, Normandy Invasion, was off last at the start and bobbled just steps after probably taking away his chances at that point. He was able to rally late but had a terrible trip going seven wide in the turn and was never a factor.
Ive Struck a Nerve was the most experienced horse on the race, bringing an eight-start resume to the race. He had been soundly beaten by Oxbow on the G3 Lecomte Stakes on his last race, and in two previous races by Mylute and Code West.
He did had a blazing 1:00.40 workout for this race at Fair Grounds on Feb. 16, which was the second best out of 49 that day for the same distance.
Ive Struck a Nerve earned 50 points for the new Kentucky Derby qualifying points system with the win and now has a lifetime record of 9-2-1-2 and earnings of $305,790.
He is owned by Big Chief Racing LLC and trained by Keith J Desormeaux. It was the first time that he was ridden by James Graham.
Kentucky Derby Qualifying Points Earned
Ive Struck a Nerve—50
Risen Star Stakes - Grade: 2
Distance: One-and-One-Sixteenth Miles on the Dirt
Track Condition: Fast
Winning Time: 1:44.52 Fractions: 23.92, 48.34, 1:12.74, 1:38.00
|8||Ive Struck a Nerve||James Graham||272.40||110.60||42.40|
|2||Code West||Martin Garcia||8.80||5.60|
|6||Palace Malice||Rosie Napravnik||4.60|
|Also ran: 10 - Oxbow , 9 - Normandy Invasion , 4 - Golden Soul , 5 - Mylute , 1 - Proud Strike , 11 - Bethel , 3 - Agent , 13 - Circle Unbroken , 7 - Hardrock Eleven|
|Scratched horses: Sunbean (Also-Eligible) , Departing (Trainer) , He's Had Enough (Trainer)|
|Winning Owner: Big Chief Racing, LLC|
|Winning Trainer: J. Keith Desormeaux|
|Winning Breeder: Brereton C. Jones|
|Wager Type||Winning Numbers||Payoff|
|$2 Pick 3||2-7-8 (3 correct)||2,219.60|
|$2 Daily Double||7-8||579.00|