Grade II winner St Averil makes his first start for trainer H. Graham Motion in the $150,000 Cliff Hanger (gr. IIIT) Saturday night at the Meadowlands, the final graded stakes of the track's 2005 meet.
The 1 1/16-mile turf test, originally scheduled for Oct. 14 but canceled due to several days of rainfall, drew a field of 12. St Averil will start from post three and be ridden by Ramon Dominguez.
"Maryland Stallion Station asked me to take him," said Motion, who also trains 2004 John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Better Talk Now. "He's going to stand there next year. We felt he was doing well and wanted to keep him going until the end of the season, so we needed to find a few races for him. We wanted to pursue the grass with him since his last start was on the grass and he raced very well."
St Averil was a game winner in that race, an $80,000 mile event on the turf at Del Mar on Aug. 22. After dueling with Spencers Magic much of the way, he prevailed by a head in 1:34 25.
Maryland Stallion Station, located in Glyndon, Maryland, and Peter Bradley recently purchased the 4-year-old son of Saint Ballado from owner Stan Fulton. The colt was originally sold as a $500,000 yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Sale. His dam, the Lord Avie mare Avie's Fancy was a grade II winner and won multiple stakes.
Previously trained by California-based Rafael Becerra, St Averil won the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita in 2004. He placed in three stakes, including the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and San Felipe Stakes (gr. II). He has won four of a dozen starts and earned $328,742 lifetime.
"He seems like a very nice horse, talented and he arrived in fine condition," Motion said. "I am a little familiar with him from the Triple Crown trail last year, so I knew a little bit about his history."
Live Oak Plantations's Old Forester, trained by Bill Mott, is the lukewarm 7-2 morning line choice. The Todd Pletcher-trained Icy Atlantic is listed at 9-2.
The competition also includes last year's Cliff Hanger winner, Dr. Kashnikow, and Spruce Run, who won the Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hawthorne in his last start. $150,000 Cliff Hanger, 3 & up, 1 1/16 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Owner, Trainer, ML
1. Zoffinger, Eddie King Jr., Dennis Drazin, John Forbes, 15-1
2. Onthedeanslist, Corey Lanerie, Team Valor Stable, Ralph Nicks, 8-1
3. St Averil, Ramon Dominguez, MD Stallion Station & Peter Bradley, H Graham Motion, 10-1
4. Old Forester, Eibar Coa, Live Oak Plantation, Bill Mott , 7-2
5. Spruce Run, Rex A. Stokes III, Golden Dome Stable, Linda Rice, 10-1
6. Saint Stephen, Joe Bravo, Peter Karches, Charles/Susan Harris, Christophe Clement, 4-1
7. Hotstufanthensome, Rajiv Maragh, Lesley Steinger, Norman Pointer, 6-1
8. Carrots Only, Tom Turner, Holly Crest Farm, John Mazza, 20-1
9. Ballonenostrikes, Jose Lezcano, Mac Fehsenfeld, Dennis Manning, 12-1
10. Dr. Kashnikow, Richard Migliore, Erdenheim Farm, John RS Fisher, 12-1
11. Stormy Ray, Aaron Gryder, Raymond Mamone, Robert Durso, 20-1
12. Icy Atlantic, John Velazquez, Arthur I Appleton, Todd Pletcher, 9-2