Ogden Mills Phipps' stalker Defer drew away in the stretch under Jerry Bailey for a two-length victory in the $100,000 Laurel Futurity (gr. III) at Pimlico Saturday.
The 2-year-old colt by Danzig
-Hidden Reserve (Mr. Prospector) was no surprise, going off as the 7-10 favorite of five.
Shug McGaughey trains the winner, who completed the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:45 2/5 on a fast track.
Bailey settled Defer about three lengths behind the pacesetter Elusive Thunder in third place. They angled out three wide coming off the far turn, wearing down runner-up Funk in mid-stretch. Elusive Thunder faded out of the running after setting fractions of :24 3/5, :49 1/5 and 1:13 3/5. Defer won under brisk urging.
"Throughout the race he gave me the impression that when I called on him he was going to be there," Bailey said. "I just didn't want to let Johnny (Velazquez) on the Todd Pletcher horse get too far in front of me.
"My horse was a bit distracted and rank early. After he settled down off a slow pace he found himself. We made the lead off the turn and I thought he handled everything really well for only his third race."
Woody's Apache, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, finished 3 3/4 lengths behind Funk, with John Velazquez aboard.
Elusive Thunder finished fourth followed by Malibu Moonshine. Killenaule and Monster Chaser scratched.
Defer won for the second time in three starts. He followed his debut maiden win at Belmont Park Oct. 2 with a second-place finish behind Rockport Harbor in the Nov. 2 Nashua (gr. III) at Aqueduct. The victory, worth $60,000, pushed his earnings to $108,900.
The Kentucky homebred bay paid $3.40 and $2.20. Funk returned $2.40. With Woody's Apache and Malibu Sunshine running as a Woodrow Marriott entry, there was no show wagering.