Stitched after his win in the Caesars Stakes at Horseshoe Indianapolis
Stitched was on a mission in the 17th running of the $150,000 Caesars Stakes, a Listed event, Wednesday, May 18. The 3-year-old colt led from gate to wire with an impressive win in the event marking Indiana’s richest turf race of the season at Horseshoe Indianapolis in Shelbyville, Ind.
Stitched obeyed orders from jockey Florent Geroux and was out of the gate quickly in the field reduced to five on the rain-soaked turf. The son of Mizzen Mast was on top of the petite field before they passed the tote board the first time, leaving Setna the Wise and Umberto Rispoli to their outside. Stitched continued his dominance down the backstretch as the field of five remained compact. Around the turn, Geroux prepared the sophomore for a big stretch run, and he got it. As soon as he was in the straight away, Stitched took off with a big sprint to the wire, striding out to a two and three-quarter length advantage at the wire. Tommy Bee and Irad Ortiz Jr. finished second over Setna the Wise.
Stitched was the second choice of the field, paying $10.00 for the win. He is trained by Greg Foley and owned by Nathan McCauley, Michael Olszewski and William Minton. McCauley also bred the colt, who is now four for seven in his career and three for three on a wet turf surface.
“This homebred colt is from a mare we raised named Walking Miracle,” explained McCauley. “We named her that because she had a paddock injury that prevented her from being a racehorse, but she was able to be a broodmare. This is her second foal. There’s nothing better than having a win with a homebred.”
Stitched was making his first start among stakes company. He came into the race off an impressive win at Churchill Downs in his last outing, placing him on a small two-race win streak for Foley. Foley is no stranger to the Caesars Stakes. He won the stakes under the name of Oliver Stakes the first year it was held over the turf in 2004 with a three-year-old filly named Rich Find. Stitched seems to be following the same regime as his racing career is just getting underway. He made his first start in December at the Fair Grounds.
“This colt has come a long way,” said Travis Foley, Greg’s son who serves as the assistant trainer. “I told the owners after his first start wasn’t so great that there’s talent there, I swear. He gets better and better every day. We were watching the weather all day yesterday and hoping it stayed on the turf. We are blessed with this win today.”
Foley, who is based in Kentucky, has been a longtime participant on the Indiana circuit. He has raced every year since the inaugural season at Hoosier Park in 1995. A multiple stakes winning trainer in Indiana, Foley has won 46 races in 20 years of action at Horseshoe Indianapolis with limited starts.
Caesars Stakes Day is also paired with Empire of Hope, a Caesars Entertainment Racing initiative to bring funding and awareness to racehorse aftercare programs. Eric Halstrom, Vice President and General Manager of Racing, made a presentation earlier in the day showing a total of $30,240 that has been earmarked to various organizations this season in their work to assist retired racehorses after their racing careers have completed. “Parade of Champions” is also held to showcase pony horses and outriding horses who have found second careers on the track. Due to rain, the event was postponed to a later date.
Earlier on the card, Heavenly Hellos surprised a field of seven with a strong finish in 14th running of the Horseshoe Indianapolis Stakes, a Black Type event. Ridden by Edgar Morales, the longshot filly paid $74.80 for her win over a turf listed as good in a time of 1:38.51.
Heavenly Hellos and Morales left the gate with intentions of moving toward the lead but were swallowed up by horses on both sides with the same intentions. Delightful Moment and Adam Beschizza claimed the top spot early from the outside with Dreamworker and DeShawn Parker sitting right outside of them in second. Morales was able to place Heavenly Hellos in third, three-wide heading down the backstretch of the one-mile event.
Moving into the final turn, Heavenly Hellos held her ground on the outside and every horse in the field was within just a few lengths of the leader. Heavenly Hellos dug in gamely from the center of the track and never let up, rallying past Dreamworker on the inside and fending off Alittleloveandluck with Paco Lopez on the outside to score the win by a neck in the four-horse photo. Alittleloveandluck finished another neck ahead of Dreamworker for second.
“It was a little wet on the inside, that’s why we drifted out,” said Morales, who has had a super start to the meet at Horseshoe Indianapolis and earned his 12th win in the stakes. “We got bumped at the start, but they were going a little slow on the lead. We were able to move up and took the outside and she finished strong.”
Heavenly Hellos added her name to the history of the Horseshoe Indianapolis Stakes, becoming the biggest longshot to win in the 14-year history of the race. The sophomore filly by Overanalyze paid $74.80 for the win. It was her second win in five starts for 2022 after not reaching the winner’s circle last year as a two-year-old. Rey Hernandez trains the three-year-old for Marcus Barbour’s Victory Racing Stable. She was a $9,000 purchase from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale and now has more than $130,000 on her card.
“This filly’s mother (Rich Find) actually raced here and won a stakes,” said Barbour. “We have been trying and trying to get her on grass. Today was her shot and we were praying it kept on the turf. This filly is made for the turf.”
Rich Find won the first Oliver Stakes, now known as the Caesars Stakes, held on the turf in 2004. The race began in 2003 when the track opened under the name of Indiana Downs, but the turf course was not available until 2004. The female version of the race, the Indiana Downs Distaff, began in 2009 and is now known as the Horseshoe Indianapolis Stakes.
As far as what is next on the agenda for Heavenly Hellos, Hernandez said: “We will enjoy this win and see how she came out of it and decide what our next move is.”
The 20th season of live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing extends through Wednesday, Nov. 23. Live racing is conducted at 2:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday with Thursday post times set for 3:30 p.m. A total of 12 Saturdays will feature live racing in 2022 highlighted by the 28th running of the Grade 3 $300,000 Indiana Derby set for Saturday, July 9. For more information on live racing at Horseshoe Indianapolis, visit www.caesars.com/horseshoe-indianapolis.