The Nearctic, with a winning share of US$310,620, was by far the most lucrative tally in the career of Heros Reward, who has been first or second in 11 of his past 12 starts but still got away at odds of 6-1. It was the fifth win of the year for Heros Reward.
Ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano, Heros Reward won the six-furlong test on firm going by three-quarters of a length in 1:08, two-fifths off the course mark set by Wild Zone in 1996.
“He broke pretty sharp," Castellano said. "I had good position all the way. I knew I had plenty of horse at the top of the stretch. Today was his day.”
Heros Reward went head-and-head on the outside of 13-10 favorite Smart Enough nearly from the start. Smart Enough, ridden by Chris DeCarlo, set the early pace, completing the opening quarter-mile in :22 1/5 before Heros Reward gained a half-length advantage after a half in :44 4/5. Heros Reward had the advantage entering the stretch and gradually opened it up by a couple of lengths. Heros Reward ducked in after getting clear in response to right-handed urging by Castellano. He swerved back outside in the final eighth and finished well while holding off the late charge of Quietly Mine, ridden by Garrett Gomez. It was another three parts of a length to Smart Enough in third.
Rob Ry Farm and Jayne Marie Slysz own Heros Reward, a 5-year-old Partner's Hero gelding trained by Dale Capuano. The Maryland bred owns a career mark of 7-6-1 in 21 starts with earnings of $543,616. He was coming off a second-place finish in a Laurel Park optional allowance/claiming event Sept. 27. Heros Reward won the Baltimore City Turf Sprint at Pimlico in May and also has runner-up showings to Smart Enough in Woodbine's Scotts Highlander (Can-III) and Philadelphia Park's Turf Monster this year.
“(Smart Enough) beat us twice,” said Capuano. “Both times, we felt we were unlucky. Smart Enough is a fantastic horse, and we knew it would take a lot to beat him. We broke well. Javier had him right there and running easy. I was a little surprised he was that close."
Capuano said Hero’s Reward will receive a winter rest because he hasn’t had a break all season long.
Gretchen Mobberly bred the dark bay, who is out of Lifes Passage, by Caveat.
Sent off as the fourth choice in a field of eight, Heros Reward paid $15.40, $6.80 and $3.70, while topping a $104.30 exacta with Quietly Mine ($8.30, $4.40), the Christophe Clement trainee. Smart Enough was $2.40 to show.
Mothball, Dead Red, Ecclesiastic, Dark Missile and Castle Heights completed the order.