Speedy Mint Lane Spears Dwyer Rivals
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Mint Lane pulls away in the Dwyer.
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Odds-on choice Mint Lane controlled the pace and was never threatened while posting a 2 3/4-length victory in the $198,500 Dwyer Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO), tallying his first graded win for trainer James Jerkens July 6 at Belmont Park.

Ridden once again by leading Belmont jockey Eibar Coa, Mint Lane was never in trouble in spite of running fairly quick fractions in the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds over a main track rated fast.

Mint Lane, a Maria's Mon colt who cost $270,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2006, was under early pressure from Ready's Image, the only graded winner in the six-horse field.

After an opening quarter mile of :23.55, Mint Lane was in command while clicking off additional quarter-mile splits of :46.59 and 1:11.01. Ready's Image, who tried to keep up in second while Mint Lane raced well off the rail, stopped on the far turn. The stalkers Tizbig and Pascal took up the chase through the lane, but were never close. Mint Lane finished under steady handling in a time of 1:44.29.

"He’s been just good enough to hold (his) speed and keep going," Coa said. "He definitely can go longer, and I believe he is going to have a nice summer.”

The even-running Tizbig, ridden by Channing Hill at odds of 33-1, was a clear second by 4 3/4 lengths over Pascal, who made a solid move on the final turn to reach contention for Cornelio Velasquez in upper stretch, but failed to go on with it.

Owned by Pinebloom Stable, Mint Lane won the June 13 Postponed Stakes in front-running fashion by nearly six lengths last time out, his seventh start of the year. in his only prior graded try, the bay finished a distant second to Casino Drive after setting a brisk pace in the Peter Pan (gr. II) May 10. Overall, Mint Lane is 4-2-1 in nine starts while banking $293,412. The easy Dwyer triumph was worth $120,000.

Jerkens noted that Mint Lane has had a busy 2008 campaign.

"The Jim Dandy (gr. II, July 27) comes up a little quick," he said. "I would love to keep him here in New York. You don’t want to over-race him and take all the fun out of it for him. We will definitely consider the Travers (gr. I , Aug. 23). He galloped out real good, so maybe he can go a mile and a quarter."

Pope McLean Sr., Pope McLean Jr., and William McLean bred Mint Lane in Kentucky. The colt is out of Sister Girl, by Conquistador Cielo.

Mint Lane carried 119 pounds and paid $3.30, $2.40, and $2.20. Tizbig, in his stakes debut for trainer H. Allen Jerkens, returned $14 and $6 and completd an all Jerkens exacta worth $54. Pascal, trained by Gary Contessa, was $3.50 to show.

Web Gem finished fourth, followed by Halo Najib and Ready's Image. Fidelio scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)

 

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