Trillium Stable's Dreadnaught closed out his 2004 campaign with back-to-back graded stakes victories, coming from off the pace with a dramatic surge to nip Demeteor by a neck in the $200,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on the Calder Turf Course Saturday.
Ridden again by Jean-Luc Samyn, the 4-year-old Lac Ouimet gelding began the year on the steeplechase circuit for trainer Thomas Voss. Switched back to flat racing after a pair of seconds in maiden hurdle events this summer, he won for the third time in his last four races. His first graded stakes win came in the Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) Nov. 20 at Aqueduct over s field that included several of Saturday's foes.
The final time for the 12 furlongs on firm going Saturday was 2:26 3/5.
"This is the first horse I've ever run on the flat down here," Voss said. "Usually horses have run through the spring, summer and fall, and pretty much need the winter off. But this horse, the more we did with him the better he got, so we thought we'd try it."
Voss said Dreadnaught will probably take a break until June and be pointed toward the New York handicap turf series in 2005.
With Jorge Chavez aboard Demeteor was quick from the gate and settled in second place on the outside of Certifiably Crazy, who set a moderate pace of :24, :49 1/5, 1:13 4/5 and 1:39 1/5 for Cornelio Velazquez.
Upset-minded Demeteor (12-1) grabbed the lead in deep stretch and was determined as Dreadnaught, the lukewarm 3-1 favorite in the field of 12, came from sixth to win under a powerful drive, getting up just in time. Scooter Roach, who enjoyed a ground-saving ride from Joey Bravo, also picked it up in the stretch and missed the runner-up spot by a half-length.
Steered wide into the lane, the big colt Dreadnaught responded gamely when asked by Samyn.
"He took a good position mid-pack. He was comfortable," said the rider. "When we turned for home, we had dead aim on the horse on the lead, which he overtook in mid-stretch and did it quite well."
Dreadnaught, who won for the fifth time in 15 career starts, paid $8.20, $4.60 and $3.80. The victory pushed his earnings to $305,523.
Demeteor returned $13.50 and $8.40. Scooter Roach, sent off at 35-1, was worth $11.40 to show. Colonial Bay, 23-1, finished fourth.
Puppeteer, Certifiably, Macaw, In Hand, Dr. Brendler, Latino and Rays a Ruler followed.