Middleburg Comes Through in Cliff Hanger
Photo: Equi-Photo/Taylor Ejdys
Middleburg wins the Cliff Hanger Stakes.
Even-money Favorite Middleburg had been knocking at the door of graded stakes success in his three previous starts and finally broke through Aug. 23 at Monmouth Park in the $100,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes (gr. IIIT). Watch Replay
 
Joe Bravo kept the winner close to the pace throughout on the fence, and the son of Lemon Drop Kid   was moved out to rally in early stretch. Driving strongly between battling frontrunners Special Envoy and Lochte in the final furlong, he was up in time to get the win by a neck.
 
Special Envoy, who stalked pacesetter Inchcape from second before leading off the turn, hung on for second in a one-two finish for homebreds campaigned by Mr. and Mrs. Bert Firestone.
 
Lochte, who tracked from third early, held for the show spot another neck back.
 
Middleburg, trained by Christophe Clement, finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.52 on firm turf. Runner-up Special Envoy is trained for the Firestones by Arnaud Delacour.
 
"I talked to Christophe this morning and he said, win or lose, to ride a patient race and sit the pocket, and that's exactly what I did," Bravo said. "We were confident he had the best turn of foot of any horse in the race, and when you ride for Christophe, you always ride with confidence. 
 
"I was able to sit patient and just wait for a seam to open, and when it did, he ran past those horses in three or four strides."
 
Middleburg was a two-time turf allowance winner prior to three placings in graded stakes. He came into to Sunday's race with a runner-up finish in the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) in July, was a nose second in the Monmouth Cup Stakes (gr. IIT) in June, and was third in the Fort Marcy (gr. IIIT) in May at Belmont Park. His record stands at 5-7-3 from 16 career starts, with a $349,360 bankroll. 
 
A Virginia-bred, Middleburg is out of Irish group III winner Rum Charger (Spectrum), who also produced multiple grade I winner Winchester (Theatrical).
 
Middleburg paid $4, $2.80, $2.20, and Special Envoy returned $8.20, $4.80. Lochte brought $3.80 to show.
 
Inchcape was fourth, followed by Glenard and Make it Gold to complete the order of finish.

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