Magna Graduate Passes Excelsior BC Test

Magna Graduate Passes Excelsior BC Test
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Magna Graduate earns honors in Excelsior win.
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The entire scope of the $209,100 Exelsior Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III) changed the moment the gate opened when Corinthian, noted during his abbreviated career for being nervous prior to races, leaped in the air, spotting the field several lengths and causing justifiable angst to those who backed him to the tune of 4/5. Corinthian never reached contention, leaving the Excelsior for second choice Magna Graduate under a picture perfect ride from John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Javier Castellano, who rode Corinthian. “He was so good today in the paddock and in the gate. Everything was beautiful. As soon as the gate opened-boom! He just broke in the air. I don’t even know how I stayed on.”
Velazquez immediately knew something was up because he was expecting Magna Graduate to be alongside Corinthian going to the clubhouse turn. “I didn’t worry about it. I worried about the horse in front.”
The horse in front was pacesetter Accountforthegold, who set moderate fractions (:23 3/5, :46 3/5, 1:10 1/5) under Mike Luzzi in the 1 1/8-mile event while Velazquez put Magna Graduate in the garden spot.
“The way my horse was moving at the three-eighths pole I was confident,” Velazquez said. “When Magna Graduate made the lead (approaching the eighth pole) he was waiting, looking around at the cameras and everything. I showed him the whip, but I didn’t want to hit him because he won so easily.”
The final margin was 3 3/4 lengths over Naughty New Yorker, who essentially followed the winner’s trip.  Accountforthegold was a neck farther back in third.  Popular local entry and grade I winner Evening Attire was another beck back in fourth on what was on off day at age 9. The winning time was 1:48.10.
Corinthian finished fifth, more than eight lengths behind Magna Graduate, beating only Happy Hunting.
Magna Graduate, now 9-for-22 with five graded stakes wins in his last eight starts for owner Elisabeth H. Alexander, earned $125,460 Saturday. The 5-year-old Quiet American horse, coming off a 1 3/4-length win in the Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park March 9, has banked $2,059,410.

The winner returned $6.70, $4.20, $3.50.  Naughty New Yorker came back $12.80, 7.50.  Accountforthegold accounted for a $5.40 show return.

(Chart, Equibase)

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