Off as the 13-10 choice in the 12-horse field going a mile over the main track, Stryker Phd was settled last for the opening half mile by Leslie Mawing. Scat Daddybaby sprinted to a clear lead at the outset, setting quick fractions of :22.52, :44.83, and 1:08.42 through the first three-quarters of a mile while leading by 2 1/2 lengths. Stryker Phd made his move while five-wide rounding the second turn and took charge leaving the furlong pole while holding off a tenacious Boyett for the final margin.
"We knew there was going to be a lot of speed, so I let him break on his own," Mawing said after his first Longacres Mile win. "I wanted to be in a comfortable position, but I didn't expect to be in last. We were going nice and easy. When we got to the backside, there were probably still 10 to 12 lengths still in front of me. I knew they were going fast and we were in a good stride, so for sure they were going to come back to me.
"I gave him a few taps at the three-eighths pole and he picked it up really nice. He was picking off horses one by one. When we straightened out down the lane, I was three lengths away from the leader. I got them about the eighth pole and we took the lead. I don't know what startled him but he looked at the crowd and heard the crowd and started to slow down. We went from about forty-five miles an hour to about 35 miles an hour in about a second. He kind of concerned me but I had the momentum already."
The time of 1:33.67 was just off the track record 1:33 set by Sky Jack in 2003. The winner returned $4.60, $3.20, and $2.60, with Boyett paying $8.80 and $6. Longshot Twistgrips paid $9.40 for third as Scatdaddybaby held fourth.
The 2013 champion Washington-bred older horse, Stryker Phd has now won five of 16 starts, with eight additional placings, while earning $292,751. A 5-year-old Washington-bred gelding by Bertrando now trained by Larry Ross, Stryker Phd rallied from 11th to finish second in last year's Longacres Mile when trained by Margo Lloyd.
"That's just his style, you're not going to change it," Ross said of the late-running effort by Stryker Phd. "I think Leslie gets along with Stryker really well."
Under the tutelage of Ross, he's a perfect 3-for-3 off a long layoff, with his two previous victories in stakes-record times. The gelding made his seasonal bow June 15 with a 3 1/4-length score in the one-mile Budweiser Handicap (1:34.15), which was followed by a one-length victory in the Mt. Rainier Handicap at 1 1/16 miles (1:40.20).
Produced from the Smart Strike mare Striking Scholar, Stryker Phd was bred by Char Clark Thoroughbreds and Todd Havens.