Under 131 pounds, Kashatreya closed through the stretch to win the $111,900 Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. II) Thursday at Aqueduct. With Octavio Vergara in the irons, the 5-year-old New York-bred gelding -- who previously upset Artax in the 1999 True North Handicap (gr. II) at odds of nearly 27-1 -- completed the six furlongs in 1:11.03 over a fast track and paid $19.20, $8.80 and $4.50.
Betting favorite Late Carson (133), Oro de Mexico (130 pounds), Mister Tricky (130), Exciting Story (131), and Brutally Frank (138) dueled for the early lead. Oro de Mexico soon shuffled back as Late Carson assumed a short lead through an opening quarter-mile run in :22.38. Late Carson continued to lead while between horses on the turn and pressed by Exciting Story, with Pooska Hill (129) and Oro de Mexico just behind the leaders and heads apart after a half-mile run in :45.94. Meanwhile, the late-running Kashatreya saved ground along the rail, moved into contention on the turn, came off the rail at the top of the stretch, split horses early in the stretch run, and made the lead as Late Carson began to tire in mid-stretch en route to a 3/4-length victory over Exciting Story. Oro de Mexico finished another length back in third, a nose in front of fourth-place Pooska Hill. Late Carson came home fifth, followed Brutally Frank, Brushed On (129), and Mister Tricky.
"I knew he would run good today," said trainer John Hertler. "The pace set up ggod for him. He was inside and I was just hoping there would be a spot that opened up for him. He really jumps up and runs big races when the pace sets up for him."
The Fall Highweight marks the ninth win in 34 career starts for Kashatreya, who earned $67,140 for owner-breeder Seymour Cohn. As a 2-year-old, Kashatreya (Daring Groom--Douce Carotte, by Caro) won the restricted Sleep Hollow Stakes, and as an older horse he has won two renewals of the Hollie Hughes Handicap.
"I'm glad John (Hertler) gave me the chance to ride this horse again," said Vergara. "I moved too soon on him last time. When you do that, this horse hangs. Today, I wanted to wait as long as possible before moving and it all worked out. He's not an easy horse to ride."
Exciting Story paid $13 and $7.30 and completed a $264 exacta. Oro de Mexico paid $8.30 to show.
"Hopefully, we'll continue to run him," said Hertler. "We'll probably keep going until he tells me not to." (Chart, Equibase