Battle of Hastings took advantage of a gaping hole along the inside to gain the lead and then held off an unlucky Straight Story for a head victory in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) June 20 in Virginia.
The slight 5-2 favorite in the field of nine 3-year-olds at Colonial Downs, Michael House's Southern California shipper was ridden to victory by Tyler Baze for trainer Jeff Mullins.
Battle of Hastings stalked a mediocre pace before shifting to the inside at the head of the stretch when the front-running Al Khali drifted out badly leaving the turn and carried the rallying Straight Story eight paths wide with him. Battle of Hastings surged past Take the Points to get a clear lead mid-stretch and repulsed a strong bid from Straight Story, who overcame his misfortune to charge down the middle of the track for jockey Chuck Lopez.
It was 1 1/4 lengths to the show horse, second choice Lime Rickey, who rallied late with Julien Leparoux aboard. Take the Points, who had briefly inherited the lead in upper stretch, wound up fourth. The final time for the rich 1 3/16-mile was a slow 1:57.79 over firm going.
Battle Hastings, a Great Britain-bred son of Royal Applause, was coming off a second-place finish in Churchill Downs' American Turf (gr. IIIT) May 1, when he had every opportunity but was unable to run down the outsider Orthodox on a good turf course. The gelding, generally regarded as the best 3-year-old turf horse in Southern California, won the Baldwin Stakes (gr. IIIT) on Santa Anita's hillside in March.
Baze has been aboard Battle of Hastings in all five of the bay's American starts dating back to last fall, including three victories. Battle of Hastings began his career with two wins in five tries in England.
Battle of Hastings rated patiently in fifth or sixth as Straight Story went to the front early and dawdled through an opening quarter-mile in :25.15. That was too slow for Kent Desormeaux aboard Al Khali, who drove through on the inside of Straight Story to get the advantage before the half-mile was completed in :49.47. Al Khali, with Straight Story on his outside, opened up his advantage while racing well off the rail, clipping off six furlongs in a cozy 1:13.56.
Straight Story increased the pressure on the final turn and was threatening to take over when Al Khali floated out, opening the inside for Take the Points and Garret Gomez. Battle of Hastings, however, quickly closed in from fourth to take a 2 1/2-length lead at the rail with a furlong to run. He proved best in the final strides under vigorous encouragement from Baze as Straight Story challenged. Lime Rickey, unhurried while racing near the rear of the pack on the outside, angled to the inside and finished up well to head Take the Points for third.
Battle of Hastings earned $288,000 for his fifth lifetime win in 10 starts, bumping his bankroll to $474,592.
Bred by Myriad Communications and New England Stud, Battle of Hastings is out of the Night Shift mare Subya.
The winner carried top weight of 119 pounds and paid $7.40, $4.40, and $3.40 while topping a $2 exacta worth $65.20. Richard Santulli's Straight Story, a dominating allowance winner on the Belmont Park turf in his most recent start for trainer Alan Goldberg, returned $9 and $5.40. Dogwood Stable's Lime Rickey, who was also coming off a Belmont turf allowance victory, was worth $3.40 to show.
Take the Points was followed by Al Khali, Rescue Squad, Mark S the Cooler, Final Count, and Winning Vow. Dover Street Art was scratched.