Saturday, February 18, 2006 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . February 18, 2006 . . . With shouts of “¡Sudamérica!” owner-trainer Horacio Parisi celebrated his first career stakes victory as Chilean-bred Esprit Du Roi won the $50,000 Dust Commander Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday. The race was also the first stakes win for the seven-year-old gelding, who was graded-stakes placed in Chile before beginning his U.S. career last fall. The longest shot in the six-horse field at 21-1, Esprit Du Roi paid $44.20 for the win.
With King of Speed just off his flank, Esprit Du Roi pushed the moderate pace set by Storm Surge, caught him on the backstretch, and never looked back. “He really wanted to go, and I had to let him,” said jockey Godofredo Laurente, a native of Peru who completed the South American connection. Esprit Du Roi had plenty left at the end, drawing steadily off to win by 3 1/2 lengths over King of Speed. Storm Surge, the 6-5 favorite, was another 4 1/4 lengths back in third. Esprit Du Roi finished the one-mile race for older horses in 1:39.86.
Completing the order of finish were Paging, Flying Jazz, and Patrol. Scratched from the field were Ask the Lord and G P Fleet, both expected to contend, and Barnard Man.
Esprit Du Roi now has two wins from nine starts in the U.S. and 13 wins, six seconds, and six thirds from 61 starts overall. He was Chile’s champion sprinter in 2005.
Presenting the trophy to Parisi was former jockey Mike Manganello, winner of the 1970 Kentucky Derby aboard Dust Commander, for whom Turfway’s race is named. Manganello won Turfway riding titles in 1964, 1969, and 1970.
Racing continues at Turfway on Sunday, with first post at 1:10 p.m.