Airoforce, already a graded stakes winner on the turf, made his debut on the dirt in Saturday’s $250,000 Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) and came away 1 ¾-length winner over a sloppy Churchill Downs main track.
Airoforce, also runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) a month ago, is Colonel John’s leading earner and is one of his sire’s 80 winners this year, which is 15 more than any other Third-Crop sire.
Airoforce got a very heady ride from Churchill stalwart Julien Leparoux. Well off the pace for more than six furlongs, Leparoux guided gray colt between and around horses coming into the final quarter mile. Airoforce bore down on Gun Runner, taking the lead with an eighth mile to run, then drawing clear late for a commanding win.
"We're certainly excited,” said Norm Casse, assistant to his father Mark. “We got to hold our optimism a little bit because this was a sloppy racetrack and it wasn't necessarily a fast main track. That being said, he won at Churchill Downs and he did what he was supposed to do. I thought this was a tough race this year. I'm excited about the way he ran.”
Out of the Cuvee mare Chocolate Pop, was bred in Kentucky by Stewart M. Madison. He is owned by John Oxley and was purchased for $350,000 at the 2015 OBS Spring Sale of 2-year-olds. With Saturday’s win, Airoforce has amassed $516,080 in earnings and has won three of his four starts.