The Fall Championship highlighted the opening Saturday card of the fall meet at the Florence, Ky., track.
In his first start on Turway's Polytrack, Istan swung up four wide for jockey Larry Melancon coming off the final turn to challenge the pacesetting Spotsgone, who raced well off the rail. The jockey barely moved on the winning 5-year-old Gone West horse as they smoothly pulled away to triumph by 3 1/2 lengths under a hand ride in a time of 1:37 4/5.
“I didn’t have very much to do with it,” said Melancon. “I just laid second, didn’t want to get too far out. I knew (Spotsgone) was the only speed in the race, and my horse has a little bit of speed, so I just kept him in my sights. I clucked to him and he took off.”
The field was significantly affected by the scratch of the 3-year-old Teuflesberg, the morning line favorite who was expected to take on older horses for the first time. A disagreement among Teuflesberg’s owners led trainer Jamie Sanders to scratch the horse. As a result, Istan went off as the 6-5 elect.
An easy 4 1/2-length winner of the one-mile Governor's Handicap in his last start Aug. 11 at Ellis Park, Istan earned his first graded stakes win in the Fall Championship. He has four wins and a second in six starts at one mile.
Istan's eighth win in 18 starts earned $61,380 for owner Darpat S L Stables. Overall, the bay has won $289,591. Istan began his career in France, where he earned three wins in seven starts and finished third in the listed Prix de Pontarme at Longchamp in 2005.
Spotsgone, after getting away with dull fractions of :25, :49 and 1:13 1/5 under Earlie Fires, was no match for the winner. But he held on gamely to finish second by three-quarters of a length over Gouldings Green, who got a nice run through at the rail for jockey Jesus Castanon but lacked the needed response.
The winner paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.40. Spotsgone, who won the Sea O'Erin on the Arlington Park turf in his last start, returned $4.40 and $2.60. Gouldings Green, coming off a two-length win in the Seagram Cup (Can-III) at Woodbine, was $2.40 to show.
Desert Wheat finished fourth, followed by High Blues and Cielo Gold. Barbican also scratched from the original eight-horse field.