Surprising Weigelia seized the lead at the top of the stretch and refused to give in to a resolute Classy Migration to win the $300,000 Carry Back (gr. III) for 3-year-olds Saturday at Calder Race Course.
Ridden by Abdiel Toribio Jr., Weigelia completed the six-furlong "Summit of Speed" heat in 1:10 2/5 and won by a half-length over Classy Migration and Pat Day. It was four lengths back to slowly closing Bwana Charlie, ridden by Shane Sellers.
Saddled for his first graded stakes win by trainer Manuel Azpurua, Weigelia chased the early pace of Classy Migration (:21 2/5, :44 2/5), swinging three wide on the turn and edging to the front at the head of the stretch. He was in full flight to hold off Classy Migration, who refused to give in easily.
"I knew there would be a lot of early speed in here and I wanted to just sit behind them and give Weigelia a chance to make a run at the finish," said Toribio, who won his first graded stake. "It worked out perfectly so I just waited until the three-eighths pole and when I swung him out I knew he was going to win."
Ice Wynnd Fire, the 3-2 choice in the field of 11 with Jerry Bailey aboard, finished fifth, a nose behind Caballero Negro.
Sir Oscar, Twice as Bad, Abbondanza, Misguided Left, Borbon N Blues and Sami's Majic trailed.
The winner, the fifth choice at odds of more than 10-1, paid $23, $11.20 and $6.60. Classy Migration returned $13.80 and $6, completing a $187 exacta. Bwana Charlie was $4.40 to show.
A Florida-bred son of Safely's Mark out of Turning North, by Obligato, Weigelia earned $177,000 for owner Joseph J. Balsamo. He's won five times with three seconds in 11 starts with earnings of $310,600.