It took Most Distinguished eight tries to score his first victory. Now, less than six months after finally securing a win, it seems he is on track to become one of the better 3-year-olds in the country.
Under a confident ride from jockey Rafael Bejarano, Most Distinguished came from well off the pace, stalked tiring leaders and then drew off to win by one length in the $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes (gr.II) for 3-year-olds at Saratoga July 30. Trained by Nick Zito and owned by Live Oak Plantation, the 3-year-old colt won for the third time in five starts and collected his first graded stakes victory.
Though Most Distinguished now has three wins, he has hit the board 11 times in 12 tries.
A son of Dixie Unionout of Stylish Storm, by Dixieland Band, Most Distinguished went off as the betting favorite at 2-1 and paid $6.40. Americanus, ridden by Eibar Coa, led for much of the stretch and held on for place. Starbase, coming from off the pace, rallied for show. The 8-7 exacta paid $33.80 and the 8-7-3 trifecta paid $383.50.
Most Distinguished covered the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.97 on a fast track. Out of Gwedda, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, set the pace through the first half-mile, running fractions of 22.0 and 44.83 before tiring and finishing unplaced.
“I had mixed emotions,” Zito said. “These horses ran so well (C P West in the July 29, grade II Jim Dandy Stakes and Wanderin Boy in the July 28, grade I Whitney Handicap), but they finished second. Today, it looked like Americanus was going to get away, and I said to myself, ‘Not another second.’ But then, he came.
“It’s great to get this win today. He ran unbelievable. He’s consistent and never throws in a bad race. I can never thank the horse enough. The owners wanted to keep him sprinting, but you know me: I like to stretch horses out a little bit. It’s obvious that he can do both. We’ll look at the King’s Bishop next.”
Said Bejarano: “I was just trying to take my time with this horse. He’s a come-from-behind horse. Nick has done a good job bringing him along. He settles great behind horses and I knew they were going fast today. From the three-eighths pole, I just really rode him and he really responded.”