Making his eighth consecutive start at a different track, the well-traveled 5-year-old Irish-bred ridgling was ridden to victory by Garrett Gomez for trainer Niall O'Callaghan. The son of Mark of Esteem was sent off as 4-5 favorite as the 117-pound high weight against six rivals, completing the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:52 3/5 on a course slowed by rain in recent days.
Waupaca, ridden by Quincy Hamilton, milked a slow lead while outpacing Major Rhythm and Crested through early fractions of :25 3/5 and :51 1/5. After seven furlongs in 1:28 1/5 Waupaca was proving stubborn on the inside as Crested and Shaun Bridgmohan came to challenge upper stretch. Meanwhile, Embossed, who had saved ground for most of the journey, moved into contention while angling to the outside of the leaders. Embossed reached even terms approaching the eighth pole and proved too much to handle for the second choice Crested, who gained second by a neck over Waupaca. More Than Regal closed well for Luis Quinonez and finished a nose away in fourth.
"My instructions were to keep him within five or six lengths of the early leaders, and I had to work on him early a bit to do that, but he settled in well," Gomez said. "When it came time for the real running, he hit another gear. He's a horse that finishes well. He's got a good kick and it showed closing into slow fractions."
Embossed, who ended a four-race losing streak, ran fourth in the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita in his last start April 22, finishing less than two lengths behind On the Acorn. The dark bay's last victory came in the Kentucky Cup Turf (gr. IIIT) at Kentucky Downs Sept. 26 when he defeated Lord Carmen by a nose. Embossed has won five times in 23 starts with earnings of $441,233.
He paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.20. Crested, coming off a nine-furlong optional claiming win on the grass at Churchill Downs, returned $3.60 and $3. Waupaca, who ran third in last year's Dallas Turf Cup after setting the pace as well, was $2.60 to show.
More Than Regal was followed by Major Rhythm, Brego and Trial by Jury.
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