Pacesetting Pavarotti, a $2.5 million yearling purchase, refused to give way under extreme pressure from Time Squared, fighting back in deep stretch for a head victory in the $100,000 Round Table for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park Saturday.
The untried bay colt by A.P. Indy--Snow Forest (Woodman) made his stakes debut in the Round Table. Ridden by Rene Douglas for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, Pavarotti showed real courage in winning a long stretch duel with the determined Time Squared, who angled up on the outside for Julien Leparoux for a terrific finish. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile Round Table was 1:49 3/5 on the Polytrack.
“This horse is a soldier,” said Douglas. “He fought back. That was a battle, a good race.
"He did (get a little warm in the post parade) but he wasn’t really jumping around or anything. I guess he was feeling good. I didn’t want to do too much. I just wanted him to be comfortable. He ran a tremendous race.”
Time Squared rallied in the stretch and led briefly between calls before being overtaken by Pavarotti in deep stretch.
“I sat behind the winner until the stretch,” said Leparoux. “I made a move at him and took the lead for an instant, but (Pavarotti) was very game and came back on me. My horse ran his heart out.”
It was nearly eight lengths back to the 7-10 favorite Dominican, ridden by Rafael Bejarano. The Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) winner, previously undefeated in three tries on Polytrack, was making his first start since finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Pavarotti paid $12, $5.20, and $2.60. Time Squared returned $6 and $2.80. Dominican paid $2.10.
Breaking from the middle of the six-horse field, Pavarotti established an early one-length lead along the inside and led his rivals through moderate fractions of :24 2/5, :48 and 1:11 3/5. Time Squared, close up along the inside, angled out for a strong bid but was outfought in the final strides.
Dominican steadied shortly after the start and was not involved in the early pace, rallying belatedly to finish a distant third.
“I thought I had good position and, when I got to the turn my horse made a little run, but (Pavarotti) and (Time Squared), they kept going and my horse flattened out a little bit,” said Bejarano.
Prom Shoes, Snowblind Friend, and Mandurah followed. Dashes N Dots scratched.
Pavarotti, coming off a first-level allowance win at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs May 28, won for the third time in six starts with two seconds, improving his earnings to $151,900.
Bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant Farm LLC and W.S. Farish, Pavarotti was sold for $2.5 million at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2005.