HENDERSON, Ky. (Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017) — Touchdown, Dak Attack!
Dak Attack now is 2 for 2 after winning the $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile under Robby Albarado. Coady Photography
Albaugh Family Stables’ 2-year-old colt Dak Attack poured it on down the stretch for a three-length victory over 81-1 shot Northern Trail, with Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Bashford Manor winner Ten City another 1 3/4 lengths back in third in Sunday’s $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile at Ellis Park.
“He went down there and did what he was supposed to do,” trainer Dale Romans said by phone from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. “That was a good field of horses he beat, and I think his future is bright.”
Like his namesake, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, the 2-year-old colt Dak Attack performed error-free in running his record to 2 for 2. He was a golden boy in the paddock when other youngsters were boisterous, handled post 11 in a field of 11 with aplomb, swooping up from seventh to take charge in the final eighth-mile while covering seven-eighths of a mile in 1:22.96. He paid $6.20 to win as the second choice.
“I had a great trip,” said jockey Robby Albarado. “Historically you wouldn’t prefer the outside post, but circumstances with 2-year-olds, the second start, I was able to let the race unfold in front of me and I wasn’t committed to any spot on the track. I got my sights on Ten City. I got to draft next to him, pulling with him around there, matching strides and turning for home I tried to pull away from him. And he did.”
It all came after Dak Attack won his debut at Churchill Downs against only three rivals, albeit the runner-up, Sporting Chance, won his next start at Saratoga and will go in the Grade 1 Hopeful.
Brianna Vitt photo
“He had to go wide, he got some dirt in his face. He did everything he’s supposed to do,” Romans said. “And he also ran fast, which is good. He’s doing everything his namesake did. He’s a rookie like Dak was last year, yet he’s the star of our show.”
Romans and Jason Loutsch, the co-owner and racing manager for the Albaugh stable, said Dak Attack probably will train up to Keeneland’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity. The barn also has Saratoga’s Grade 3 Sanford runner-up Free Drop Billy going in Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Iroquois and Saratoga Special runner-up Hollywood Star for Saratoga’s Grade 1 Hopeful.
“As soon as we got in the starting gate, boy, immediately the gates opened up,” said Dennis Albaugh, the stable patriarch and Loutsch’s father in law. “He wasn’t quite ready, so we didn’t get out perfect. But still not bad. Robby rode an unbelievable race. He just hung in there and poured it on. Man, we knew that horse was bred right, and he did the right things in the race. We were very happy with him. He’s a strong one coming into this next season.”
Brianna Vitt photo
“We’re very proud of him; he ran hard,” Loutsch said. “All along we thought he was the most talented. We just took a little easier approach with him and brought him to Ellis. We had it in the plan book all along, and the plan came together and it’s working great. We’re coming off back to back second-place finishes at Saratoga, so I’m not taking anything away from our other two horses. But that was professional today. Breaking from the (11), sitting back there and eating dirt. And Robby asked him to go, he went.”
Northern Trail, who won a maiden turf sprint at Ellis after being well-beaten in two dirt starts, was the latest in a huge meet for Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg. His stable is 9 for 26 at the meet, good for third place in the standings. Northern Trail, with Channing Hill in the saddle, put the most pressure on the pacesetting Make Noise, also trained by Van Berg, and kept going to take the lead in the stretch before Dak Attack’s surge.
“I’m proud of him,” said Van Berg, who said Northern Trail’s next start will be Kentucky Downs’ $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile on grass. “He ran well. The other colt is a good colt, too,” he added of Make Noise, who weekend to fifth after establishing a fast pace.
Brianna Vitt photo
Albarado had ridden the Kenny McPeek-trained Ten City to victory in a maiden win and the Bashford Manor. While he rides extensively for both Romans and McPeek, he was committed to Dak Attack in this race by the time McPeek decided to run. Jack Gilligan picked up the mount on Ten City, who went off the odds-on favorite at 7-10. While Ten City was a handful in the paddock, Gilligan said he was calm in the post parade.
“I had him where I wanted to be,” the 20-year-old Gilligan said of his mid-pack position “I wanted to give him a nice, clear trip. I wanted Robby to be a bit behind me on my outside, so I could control him a little bit.
“To be honest, he’s going to be great guns going two turns. He just didn’t have sprinters speed on the middle of the turn, where Robby was able to move up me. I had no horse to go with him. He just felt like a two-turn horse at that point of the race where I needed to be able to hold my position, to push up on Robby to keep him out.”
Dak Attack is a son of the Adena Springs stallion Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, and out Indian Spell, a daughter of Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell. The $625,000 Keeneland yearling purchase was bred by Brereton Jones’ Airdrie Stud, with the Jones family staying in for a piece of the colt.
“Ten City is a very nice horse,” Albarado said. “He won the stakes last time out. I’m not going to take anything away from Dak Attack. He’s royally bred and was well prepared for today, as he was for his first start. “There are some talented babies in Kentucky. I’m excited for the fall. His talent is striking. But his demeanor, going to the track, coming off the track, walking to the winner’s circle. Nothing fazes the horse. He settles. He’s fast enough to be forwardly placed if they go too slow. He’s been perfect to this point.”