The 2-1 second wagering choice in the one-mile race, Seek Again was ridden to a neck victory by Joel Rosario in 1:33.25 on firm turf, eclipsing the previous record of 1:33.42, set by L'Oiseau d'Argent Aug. 5, 2004.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott conditions the 4-year-old son of Speightstown
for owner/breeder Juddmonte Farms. The chestnut colt, winner of the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) in December in his United States debut for John Gosden, was bred from Juddmonte's 2004 Yellow Ribbon Stakes (gr. I) winner Light Jig
, by Danehill.
After beginning his career in England for Gosden, Seek Again was subsequently sent to Mott. He finished a game second by a head to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan
in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) in May at Churchill Downs
, and then was third as the favorite in the June 7 Knob Creek Manhattan (gr. IT) at Belmont Park
in his previous start.
Wise Dan bypassed the Fourstardave, a race he won the previous two years, to continue to train for his comeback from May 16 colic surgery.
Seek Again was positioned in fourth early, just in behind 3-2 favorite Silver Max
, who rushed out of the gate to set an uncontested pace through an opening quarter in :23.33, with Sayaad
tracking about 1 1/2 lengths back. Sayaad move to within a half length as the half went in :46.18 and drew alongside the leader on the far turn before gaining narrow lead nearing the quarter pole in 1:09.52. Sayaad was under heavy pressure in the stretch and was overhauled by Grand Arch
, who stuck in head in front at the eighth pole.
Racing a bit off the inside on the backstretch, Seek Again took closer order to the front-runners on the far turn under Rosario's urging, then came out for the stretch run. Rosario kept a cool head when his mount checked in close quarters soon afterward and deftly guided him over to a spot on the hedge that opened when Silver Max tired and yielded. The colt found trouble there, too, when Sayaad drifted over near the eighth pole and forced Seek Again to check again.
Once Sayaad was out of the way, however, Seek Again had a clear path to victory, inching past Grand Arch past the sixteenth pole, and outlasting the 11-1 shot to the wire.
Mott said he had a few anxious moments watching the stretch run.
"I was thinking it could be over at the eighth pole, when I saw he had to alter course two different times," he said. "I thought, well, we could be in trouble because it's awful late in the game to have to stop your momentum and go a different direction."
Rosario said Seek Again was game for the win.
"He showed up today," the rider said. "At first, there wasn't a lot of room. I had to stay there because he likes to run a lot that way, that's his style. He's a good horse, he fires all the time. When he sees a horse in front of him, he comes to get (him). So we had the winner today."
Grand Arch was a tough second, three-quarters of a length in front of Jack Milton
, who rallied from last in the six-horse field for third.
Wire-to-wire Firecracker Stakes (gr. IIT) victor Silver Max, who upset Wise Dan in the off-the-turf Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. I) at Keeneland
last fall, finished last as the 122-pound highweight in his second start off a long layoff.
"They went really fast," trainer Dale Romans said of the quick early fractions. "We were going to go fast, we knew it all along. Second start back, maybe I didn't do enough with him. As long as he comes back good, we'll be back."
Seek Again, a three-quarters brother to United Arab Emirates group III-winning miler Treble Jig, returned $6.70, $3.80, and $3.10 while toting 121 pounds. Grand Arch brought $8 and $3.70. Jack Milton was worth $2.90 to show.
The order of finish was completed by Dorsett
in fourth and Sayaad in fifth, with Silver Max bringing up the rear.