Najran Flies in Phoenix BC at Keeneland

Najran Flies in Phoenix BC at Keeneland
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Najran strides to the finish line to win the 151st running of the Phoenix Breeders' Cup, Friday at Keeneland.
Buckram Oak Farm's Najran tracked the pace and pulled away to score an easy 1 1/2-length victory in the $264,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup (gr. III) at Keeneland Friday.

The son of Runaway Groom, an imposing gray, was sent off at 6-1. The Nick Zito trainee was coming off a solid second to Aldebaran in the Forego Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga. Making only his second start at the six-furlong distance, he has won both of those efforts.

Odds-on favorite Beau's Town, who entered off a resounding victory in the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar, stumbled slightly out of the gate and was in behind horses up the backstretch. He gradually dropped back and was never a factor. Great Notion, another speedball, also failed to break alertly and was not involved.

Longshot Take Achance On Me, 66-1, grabbed the early advantage tracked by Ethan Man on the inside and Najran on the outside. The top trio had the front end to themselves for the entire running. Turning for home, the winner ($14, $5.60 and $7.20) began grinding down the longshot, with Ethan Man threatening along Keeneland's golden rail. But Najran's class prevailed under rider J.J. Castellano. Ethan Man ($9 and $9) held second, with Take Achance On Me ($12.80) third.

"Last time he ran very well against Aldebaran so I was confident going into today's race," Castellano said. "We had such a good position early and he relaxed so well, it was really great. When I asked him to run at the top of the stretch he really responded. I really like this horse."

Najran was bred in Kentucky by France and Irv Weiner. He is a 4-year-old colt out of the Capote mare Line Command. Najran has now won seven times from 15 trips to the post, and boasts a bankroll of $483,448. Friday's winning share was worth $169,880.

(Chart, Equibase)

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