Bass Racing’s Annapolis wins at Churchill Downs

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard Annapolis. (© Candice Chavez/CSM via ZUMA Press Wire) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

Fort Worth philanthropist and horse racing enthusiast Ramona Bass and her son Perry Bass II celebrated Kentucky Derby week at Churchill Downs with a trip to the winner’s circle Thursday as their star 4-year-old colt Annapolis scored a hard-fought victory in the $300,000 Opening Verse Stakes.

Making his first start since a disappointing 11th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last November, Annapolis prevailed by a head over Churchtown. The morning line and race-time favorite in the mile-long test on Churchill’s turf course, Annapolis posted a time of 1:35.73 and returned $3.66 on a $2 win bet. Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher  and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Annapolis now has six wins and two seconds with earnings of $1,341,370 in nine lifetime starts. The winner’s share of the $300,000 Opening Verse purse was $175,270.

Sired by War Front out of the Unbridled’s Song mare My Miss Sophia, Annapolis was bred in Kentucky by Bass Stables LLC and races under the colors of Bass Racing LLC. Perry Bass II manages the Bass breeding and racing operations.

Annapolis’ loss in the Breeders’ Cup Mile was due at least in part to a poor break from the starting gate, but he broke well on Thursday, raced in traffic early then moved to the outside and surged past horses to challenge front-runner Churchtown. The two dueled through the stretch before Annapolis prevailed at the wire.

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“He was kind of bottled up for a while but once he got out in the clear he really kicked nicely,” Pletcher said in a post-race interview on Fox Sports’ America’s Day at the Races.

Fox commentator and former jockey Richard Migliore praised Annapolis’ gritty performance following a six-month layoff.

“He was dead game off the layoff,” Migliore said. “You’ve got to think he’s just gonna go forward off this effort.”

Pletcher said Annapolis now will be pointed toward the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap scheduled for Aug. 12 at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York.