Despite being drawn widest of all Lamartine and jockey Ricardo Santana Junior produced a stunning performance to record a first US success at Churchill Downs on Thursday evening.
A dual Grade One winner in Brazil the now Steve Asmussen trained colt had failed to find the places in two previous starts on American soil. However, he had found himself blocked in running on the most recent of those while travelling like the winner, suggesting his turn wouldn’t be too far away.
Returning to the scene of his luckless effort, that assumption would prove to be correct as the son of Shanghai Bobby shook off a tardy start from the gates to gain victory. After that slow beginning Santana Junior gently urged his partner to press the early leader as the field reached the first turn in addition to tracking over to the rail from his outside post. The Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned horse travelled comfortably just off the pace-setter Renaissance Frolic, until the moment the field began sweeping around the home bend. It became evident Lamartine was the last to come under pressure from the saddle, and he eased into the lead at the top of the stretch. Kicking two lengths clear he looked like the winner a furlong out and eventually held off his challengers to record a length success in the Allowance Optional Claiming contest.
The Asmussen/Santana Junior combination were recording a double for the evening while the rider extended his position at the top of the leading jockey’s table at the Kentucky venue.