Pacesetting Philanthropist, passed in the stretch by two rivals, surged onward under strong left-handed urging from Eibar Coa to win the $105,400 Queen's County Handicap (gr. III) in his stakes debut at Aqueduct Saturday.
The Ogden Mills Phipps Stable homebred edged West Virginia by a long neck while completing the 1 3/16-mile distance in 1:56 4/5 on a good track. The Chilean-bred We Can Seek finished third with multiple grade I winner Evening Attire, compromised by a slow start, coming home fourth. Trapped Again, made the 9-5 favorite, finished last in a field reduced to five by the scratch of Summer Book.
A 4-year-old son of Kris S.-Hidden Reserve (by Mr. Prospector) trained by Shug McGaughey, Philanthropist was coming off a half-length win in a one-mile optional claiming/allowance heat at Aqueduct Nov. 18. The Queen's County was the chestnut colt's second start since Sept. 16.
Philanthropist got the early lead on the inside of Trapped Again and opened up a 2 1/2-length lead coming off the clubhouse turn while completing the opening quarter-mile in a :24 and the half in a relaxed :48 4/5. He was challenged on the far turn by both Trapped Again and West Virginia, racing three wide, but held on as the field hit the stretch.
We Can Seek, with Pablo Fragoso aboard, and West Virginia, ridden by Norberto Arroyo Jr., both passed Philanthropist in the stretch as Evening Attire, who fell nine lengths behind the field early after walking out of the gate, ranged into contention under Jose Santos on the extreme outside. But Philanthropist, under the left-handed stick from Coa, found new life, rallying between his challengers to edge away in the final strides before the wire. West Virginia, who had taken the lead from We Can Seek, finished two lengths in front of the third-place finisher. We Can Seek was a neck better than Evening Attire, the 117-pound high weight.
Philanthropist, who earned $64,440, improved his record to 6-4-1 in 14 career starts while banking $260,590.
The second-longest shot on the board, he paid $13.20, $6.80, and $5.10. West Virginia, who was nipped by Evening Attire for victory in his last start, the Stuyvesant Nov. 19, returned $4.20 and $3.50 and rounded out a $47.20 exacta. We Can Seek's show price was $4.70.