Grael grinds out game victory at Kentucky Downs

Two-year-old colt provides first-crop sire Astern with his fifth North American winner

Grael took command in mid-stretch and pulled away late to take an eight-furlong maiden special weight contest by one-and-three-quarter lengths at Kentucky Downs Sept. 11.

The two-year-old Astern colt, who was making just his second career start, became the fifth North American winner for his freshman sire. The Godolphin homebred also provided trainer Brendan Walsh with his third winner of the day on the competitive Kentucky Downs’ card.

Jockey Adam Beschizza had Grael forwardly-placed in third, sitting just behind the early leaders Tuskegee Cat and Mackenzie’s Novva, through the early stages of the race. Grael launched a three-wide bid heading into the lane, then gained the advantage in mid-stretch before pulling away late to post the victory.

Grael was bred in Kentucky and is out of the mare Fortress, by the late Darley stalwart, Street Cry. Fortress is a full sister to Graded Stakes-placed Anasheed and is a half-sister to the Graded Stakes-placed duo Bay of Plenty (by Medaglia d’Oro) and Fortify. Also hailing from the immediate female family are the Champions and/or G1 winners Flagbird, Little Belle and Dickinson (Medaglia d’Oro).

In North America, Astern is also represented by the winners Mainstay (G3-placed), Sail By (Stakes-placed), The Arcadian Way and Brandon’smylawyer. Another daughter, C J’s Cat Five, was recently third in the Jamestown Stakes at Colonial Downs. In Australia, he is represented by the undefeated two-year-old filly Seradess, winner of the Listed Cinderella Stakes, along with fellow "down under" juvenile Stakes winner, Danger Strykes.