Mecke Wins the Grade 1 Early Times Turf Classic


1996 – Florida-bred Mecke and jockey Pat Day came from last in the field of 11 to win the Grade 1 Early Times Turf Classic at Churchill Downs one race before Grindstone’s victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Trained by Manny Tortora for owners James and Alice Lewis, Mecke was more than 10 lengths behind frontrunning Petit Poucet (GB) and rider Chris McCarron after six furlongs of the nine-furlong Turf Classic. Mecke went widest of all around the far turn and was still seventh with five lengths to make up in midstretch before rallying to nab Petit Poucet by a head at the finish. Winged Victory and jockey Jerry Bailey were third.

Returning $17.40 to win, Mecke was the second Florida-bred stakes winner at Churchill Downs that day after Hoop Coyote Hoop won the $89,025 WHAS-TV as the co-favorite under jockey Gary Bain.

The Turf Classic was the second Grade 1 victory for Mecke after winning the Isle of Capri Super Derby at Louisiana Downs eight months earlier. Later that year, Mecke won the Grade 1 Arlington Million at Arlington Park and was named the Florida-bred champion turf horse of 1996.

Bred in Florida by Mike Sherman’s Farnsworth Farm, Mecke was by Maudlin out of Beautiful Bid, by Baldski, making him a full brother to Florida-bred Beautiful Pleasure, the Eclipse Award-winning champion older mare of 1999.

Farnsworth Farms consigned Mecke to the 1994 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Week of Champions Sale in March where Jim Lewis purchased him for $40,000.

Mecke would retire with 12 wins, seven seconds and nine thirds from 40 starts and earnings of $2,470,550. Fifth in the 1995 Kentucky Derby won by Thunder Gulch and fifth in Timber Country’s Preakness, Mecke’s other graded stakes victories included the 1996 Widener (G3) at Hialeah, 1996 Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder and the 1997 Mac Diarmida Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

He stood at Ocala Stud from 2007-2008 before moving to stand in Tennesse and then Indiana. He sired 14 stakes-winners including graded stakes-winners Mountain Range and Magic Mecke, and millionaire Supah Blitz.

Return to the May 4 issue of Wire to Wire