(Edited NYRA report)
Kensei, ridden by Edgar Prado and trained by Steve Asmussen, made a powerful move on the far turn en route to an impressive 3 1/4-length victory in the 92nd running of the $200,000 Dwyer (gr. II) at Belmont Park on the July 4 holiday card (VIDEO).
The 3-year-old colt finished the 1 1/16-mile distance on Belmont’s main track in 1:40.47.
Sent off at odds of 6-1, Kensei paid $15.40 to win. The 3-year-old Mr. Greeley colt is owned by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables and Lance Robinson’s Gulf Coast Farms.
“Every step of the way, I was feeling very comfortable,” said Prado. “It felt good. It was a matter of time, and when I turned him loose, he responded. It’s very nice to ride this kind.”
“He was within himself, which I liked,” said Jackson. “Saratoga is on our screen, but we have to look at other alternatives, as well. We have hard decisions but first we have to see how he comes out of the race.”
As expected, Just Ben set the early pace in the Dwyer, running a half-mile in :45.71. As they went around the far turn, Prado made his move on Kensei, who took the lead away from Just Ben at the top of the stretch, and never gave it back.
Convocation, ridden by Alan Garcia, made a strong move at the top of stretch, but never threatened the winner, finishing 3 1/4 lengths back in second. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Warrior’s Reward, who was followed by American Dance, Masala, Just Ben, and Sunday Sunrise completing the field.
"He broke badly and I couldn’t get him going,” said Borel of Warrior’s Reward. “He was fine. The ground just broke out under him. It was bad luck. We’ll get them next time.”
“Every step of the way, I was feeling very comfortable,” Prado said. “It felt good. It was a matter of time, and when I turned him loose, he responded. It’s very nice to ride this kind.”
Scott Blasi, assistant to Asmussen, said, “You can tell by his progression, in his numbers and in our confidence in him, that he’s headed in the right direction. After the allowance race at Hot Springs, we showed a tremendous amount of confidence in him and a lot of credit goes to Mr. Jackson for giving him the patience and letting him come around.”
Bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast, Kensei has now won half of his six career starts. The Dwyer was the colt’s first stakes win, with his two other victories coming in maiden and allowance company.