Marie and Aaron Jones own the gray son of Unbridled's Song, paying $6.1 million for the 4-year-old colt at the November Breeding Stock Sale. They owned the lightly-raced Half Ours in partnership with Barry K. Schwartz prior to the sale. The amount established a Keeneland record for horses in training.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Half Ours was making his graded stakes debut in the Richter Scale. Half Ours was out of action for nearly 20 months after sustaining a hind leg fracture in 2005. He returned in December to win at Aqueduct and was coming off a 4 1/4-length triumph in an optional claiming event at Gulfstream Feb. 4.
“He’s a really special horse, very talented," said Pletcher, who chalked up his fourth win on the Gulfstream Park card. "I think he’ll stretch out, but he’s in such good form right now, we ran him in here. All the credit goes to the Jones’s for their patience. They love this horse. They bought the mare and a full-brother, who is a 2-year-old this year. We’ll probably look at the Carter as our next start.”
The Carter Handicap (gr. I) is at Aqueduct on April 7.
Breaking well for regular rider John Velazquez, Half Ours led for most of the opening quarter mile before settling into second on the outside of Bright One, who set a fast pace under pressure of :21 3/5 and :43 3/5. Half Ours took over at the head of the lane and opened a clear advantage inside the eighth pole as his pace rivals Bright One, Mach Ride and Diabolical gave way. Closing on the extreme outside, Park Avenue Ball, ridden by Chris DeCarlo, ran out of time while getting to the winner with every stride. Diabolical, Mario Pino riding, finished a stubborn third, one length behind the winner. The final time was a solid 1:22 1/5.
“(Half Ours) broke well and I just wanted to sit off the leaders to give him a chance at the quarter-pole," Velazquez said. "I didn’t want him to get too far out of it and be discouraged. It was a really good trip. He was able to coast down the lane.”
Brilliant Stables bred Half Ours, who is out of Zing, by Storm Cat, in Kentucky.
Half Ours, who earned $135,000 to run his career bankroll to $294,670, paid $5.60, $4.60 and $3.
Park Avenue Ball, in his first start since running fifth in the Meadowlands Breeders' Cup (gr. II) on Oct. 13, returned $8.40 and $4.20.
“He got pinched off real good (at the start) and was further back than we would have liked," said trainer Jim Ryerson. "That hurt him today. He’s good horse, and he can do a lot of things. Everybody thinks that he’s a router, but he can run middle distance.”
The multiple graded winner Park Avenue Ball carried top weight of 119 pounds, two more than the winner.
Diabolical, second to Eclipse-winning sprinter Thor's Echo in the DeFrancis Memorial last out at Laurel Park, was $2.80 to show as the second choice.
Bright One, who finished fourth, broke down and was vanned off following the race. According to the Daily Racing Form, Bright One broke the sesamoid bone in his left foreleg and had to be euthanized. He was followed by Mach Ride, Nar, Dark Cheetah, Slam Bammy, Little Thunder and Ecclesiastic.