HENDERSON, Ky.— After performing as bridesmaid in her first two appearances at Ellis Park, Injunction not only found his way into the Pea Patch winner’s circle on August 6, but he also hit a few milestones in his career.
The 4-year-old Skipshot gelding took his first stakes victory with bravery on Saturday, doing the dirty work up front before taking on challenges from West Will Power and Last Samurai in the lane to capture the inaugural mile race RA$70,000 “Cowboy” Jones Overnight Stakes in Record Breaking Style.
The “Cowboy” Jones was named in honor of the jockey and Ellis Park icon who died on April 25 at the age of 79.
“I know RA Jones meant a lot to a lot of people and to Ellis Park, so it’s an honor to get the win,” said Nick Vaccarezza, co-owner of Injunction and assistant to his father and coach, Carlo Vaccarezza.
Injunction himself has caused a lot of emotion within the Vaccarezza clan since they bought him when he was 2 years old.
It took the chestnut gelding four tries to break her maiden, although two of her first three losses were second-place efforts over eight furlongs above the main track at Ellis Park. Since finishing sixth in the Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes (G2) to open his 2022 campaign, Injunction has been no worse than fourth in five subsequent outings, with Saturday’s effort representing his fourth victory in 11 career starts.
“When we got him when he was 2, he was a little…ehhhh,” Nick Vaccarezza said. “We worked hard on him and brought him here. He has such a big heart. He beat the horse he had to beat (Last Samurai) and another horse coming outside and he still fought. You cannot train the heart and the horse has heart.
Sent off as a 2-1 favorite in the six-horse field, Injunction rode well away from the No. 1 post under jockey Rafael Bejarano and was able to maintain a narrow lead over The last Samourai while these two ran side by side over fractions of :23.32 and :45.76. This pair remained glued to each other after the far turn but had a threat in The west will be able looming in the distance outside.
Although Last Samurai looked set to follow his rival down the rail, Injunction refused to give in and had enough to contain West Will Power’s late push, hitting the wire a head ahead in a time of 1:34.33 on a track assessed quickly.
“I’m really happy for the team to have done a great job with this horse,” Bejarano said. “I didn’t really have anything else other than to send in the lead. I expected to have a little pressure at the start, but my horse ran all the way. He raced his heart to the end.
West Will Power rose for second, three quarter lengths ahead of Last Samurai in third. title ready, The postman’s moneyand Night operations completed the order.
Four horses withdrawn including the winner of the Helium Ranked Stakes.
Raised in Kentucky by Mikhail Yanakov and owned by Nick Vaccarezza in partnership with J&G Stables, Injunction has improved his career earnings to $316,877.
Ellis Park Press Release
Photo: Injunction (Coady Photography)