Combustion Clinches Kentucky Sires Stakes Upset

A power-packed section of $100,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes (KYSS) finals for 4-year-olds came to a dramatic curtain fall with a closing-stride success by 19-1 shot Combustion in a bare-knuckle 1:49.1 mile on Monday (May 13) at Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel.

Combustion (driven by Todd McCarthy) took back as a speedy scene played up front between It’s My Show (Scott Zeron) and Admiral Hill (Yannick Gingras) while they darted four lengths clear of El Rey (David Miller) to a :25.4 first quarter. Gingras eventually obliged and wrangled Admiral Hill into the seat behind It’s My Show as he grabbed a breather to a :54.3 half before having to engage for the war up the backstretch. 

Blue Lou (Dexter Dunn) rushed off the pegs to attack It’s My Show with Tip Top Cat (Andy Miller) sitting second over and Combustion still biding his time in the back. It’s My Show clung to a diminishing lead to a scorching 1:21.2 three-quarters and stayed on the ropes as the siege intensified for home. Blue Lou grabbed a narrow lead as Tip Top Cat came charging off cover and Combustion, building his momentum through the turn, burst late onto the scene down the center of the track. Combustion came firing with just enough fervor to slide a head in front of Tip Top Cat at the beam while Admiral Hill shook free from a bottled trip for third and Blue Lou settled for fourth. 

A son of Captaintreacherous, Combustion collected his 10th win from 28 tries and has now earned $468,815. Doug Dilloian Jr. trains the $40.88 winner, who won in a lifetime best, for owners David Linker, Brian Loman and Robert Venable. 

Strong Poison (Yannick Gingras) scored the easiest of victories to open the card with a 1:49.2 stroll in the $100,000 KYSS final for 4-year-old pacing mares. 

Leaving from the pylon post, Strong Poison settled into third by a :26 first quarter uncorked by Zanatta launching from the outermost post for the front. Gingras then circled Strong Poison towards the lead and had the race sealed for delivery. Past a :54.3 half and three-quarters in 1:21.2, Strong Poison glided over the ground to a 3-3/4-length victory under wraps over 6-5 favorite Always B Naughty (Andy McCarthy) coming from second over for second. Hungry For Love (Scott Zeron) saved ground and bagged third while Keep My Secret (Tony Hall) levelled off from a first-over push for fourth. 

Virgil Morgan Jr. trains Strong Poison, a daughter of Always B Miki, for owners Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Odds On Racing. She collected her 10th win from 29 starts, has now earned $885,475 and paid $5.34 to win. 

Bestfriend Volo (Dexter Dunn) lasted on the lead in the $100,000 KYSS final for 4-year-old trotting males with a 1:52.2 effort as the 3/5 favorite. 

Dunn got rolling with Bestfriend Volo after a :26.4 first quarter catalyzed by Sparks Fly (Atlee Bender) insisting on taking the point from Show Me A Million (Lewayne Miller). Once Sparks Fly settled, Dunn spurted for the engine and planted onto the lead by a :56 half before accelerating up the backside to three-quarters in 1:23.1. Despite the torrid third quarter, Bestfriend Volo had a first-over challenger looming in Once In A Lifetime (Todd McCarthy), but the leader had just enough in reserve to wade off the late march and post a half-length win at the beam. French Wine (Andy Miller) came from off the speed to take third and Show Me A Million held fourth. 

Winning his 10th race from 18 starts, Bestfriend Volo has now banked $241,370 for owner-trainer Nancy Takter as well as co-owners Christina Takter, 3 Brothers Stables and Deja Blu. The gelded son of Walner paid $3.38 to win. 

Mambacita (Dexter Dunn) scored the lone series sweep of the KYSS events for 4-year-olds with a 1:52.4 victory in the mare trot. 

A four-wide charge spun through the first turn and levelled through a :26.4 first quarter as Mambacita moved methodically towards the lead. Dunn managed to clear the lead moving past the stands and snuck a breather to a :56.1 half to brace her for the main challenge up the backstretch. 

Railee Something (Andy McCarthy) sat fourth after taking back but came with another charge moving to three-quarters and continued clawing into the leader past that station timed in 1:24.2. Mambacita rounded for home with the inside advantage and successfully held her ground to rebuff a game Railee Something to the finish by three-quarter lengths while Cessna Pride (Todd McCarthy) closed for third and Picaboo Lady (Yannick Gingras) took fourth. 

Tony Alagna trains Mambacita, a daughter of Tactical Landing who has now won 14 times from 34 starts and earned $899,418, for owners Crawford Farms Racing, Alagna Racing LLC and Pryde Stables Inc. She paid $2.68 to win. 

In the $33,000 Open Pace, Devon Tharps perched Rocks Shining Star into a second-over position and pounced off a clip of :26.2, :55 and 1:22.2 to snag a 1:50.2 victory by a half length over fast-closing Robert Again. Ron Burke trains the 5-year-old gelding by Rockin Image who returned $10.90 to win in collecting the 14th victory of his career. 

Live racing resumes at Oak Grove on Tuesday (May 14) at 3 p.m. (CDT) and features a carryover in the Late Pick 5 worth $2,181.49. The Late Pick 5 is a 20-cent base wager and offers a takeout rate of just 15 percent. Free program pages for every race day, courtesy of TrackMaster, are available on the Oak Grove Racing website (

Combustion with Todd McCarthy winning the $100,000 KYSS final for 4-year-old pacing horses & geldings
Strong Poison with Yannick Gingras winning the $100,000 KYSS final for 4-year-old pacing mares
Bestfriend Volo with Dexter Dunn winning the $100,000 KYSS final for 4-year-old trotting horses & geldings
Mambacita with Dexter Dunn winning the $100,000 KYSS final for 4-year-old trotting mares