Kiaran McLaughlin talked all week about how blinkers had made the difference in Daaher’s Aug. 26 allowance victory at Saratoga.
Apparently, the trainer was right on the money, as the 3-year-old Awesome Again colt was much the best in the $160,100 Jerome Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) Oct. 7. He won the one-mile event by 2¼ lengths on the dirt at Belmont Park.
Out of the Irish Open mare Irish Cherry, Daaher sat off a grueling pace set by Digger, who went a quarter-mile in :22.36, a half-mile in :44.52, and three-quarters of a mile in 1:08.35. Under a patient ride from Mike Luzzi, Daaher sat second through six furlongs and then made an easy move by the leader and gained the lead around the final turn in the event for 3-year-olds.
The stretch drive was no problem for Shadwell Stable’s Daaher, who held off a mild bid from Forefathers and drew clear to win in going away. The final time was 1:34.28.
It was the first graded stakes win for Daaher, who is now three-for-six lifetime. The inaugural Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is likely next for Daaher.
“(Shadwell manager) Rick Nichols is in England with the `boss’ (Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum), and they couldn’t see the race, so they asked me to call the race for them,” McLaughlin said. “I told them he was going easy, even though they were going fast. I told them :22 and :44 is fast, but he took the lead when everyone else was off the bridle.
“He’s a fast horse. Mike felt like he had something left at the finish. The blinkers have made all the difference in the world. The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile ($1 million, Friday, Oct. 26, Monmouth Park) is a possibility."
Forefathers, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, was second, another 5¾ lengths in front of Owners Manual in third. As the second choice in the betting, Daaher paid $8.30 to win. The exacta (7-6) was worth $113.
Betting favorite Most Distinguished finished fourth, while Digger retreated and finished sixth in the eight-horse field.
Daaher was bred in Ontario by Yvonne and Dagmar Schwabe.