Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Aikenite Flies

A special thoroughbred with an obvious Aiken connection is bringing acclaim to his home town on the stakes racing circuit. Aikenite, a 4-year-old owned by Dogwood Stable, has been having a great 2011 so far and is rapidly becoming one of the city's favorite sons.

Aikenite started out the year with a second place finish in a race in March. Then, in April, clinched a 21/4 length victory in the Grade II Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland. On May 7, Kentucky Derby day, he was entered in the prestigious $348,900 Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He drew the number one position (not his favorite) and was sent off as the seventh choice of the betting public. But his jockey, John Velasquez, gave him a great ride, letting him sit off the pace for much of the race, and then sending him home in the stretch. He ran down the race leaders to win by a nose and take home a winner's purse of over $200,000.

In his next race, the $500,000 Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on May 30, Aikenite came in fourth. It was a fast race: the winner, Tizway, turned in the second fastest time for the race in its history. Aikenite is now being prepped for the Grade I Forego Stakes at Saratoga, and may even be headed to the Breeders Cup in early November. Cot Campbell certainly hopes that he is. In fact Cot has made an interesting wager with Lucky's Race and Sport Book in Las Vegas. At 10-1 odds, he has bet $5,000 that a Dogwood horse will win a Breeder's Cup race this year. Dogwood currently has 40 horses, including several promising 2-year-olds that have yet to show anyone what they can really do, so all of Cot's chances are not riding on his 4-year-old. But if he Aikenite does win, it will be sweet for Dogwood and for all his local fans.

On another note, Aikenite has so far banked over $700,000 in his race career. If he wins over $1 million, he will become eligible to be named the Aiken Trained Horse of the Year by the Aiken Thoroughbred Hall of Fame and Museum located in Hopeland Gardens. 

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