Nite Dreamer gained the early lead and was joined by Kimberlite Pipe and Mula Gula as they raced three across the track on the backstretch, completing a half-mile in :48.33. As they straightened for home, Nite Dreamer floated Mula Gula wide into the stretch allowing room for Blazing Sword's rail-skimming closing run.
"He usually wants to run outside but I never had the opportunity to get out," said Rivera. "This is the first time I've seen him run on the inside. They pushed me to the inside today, so that's where I went."
As Blazing Sword took the lead inside the final furlong, Rivera switched to a hand ride and the gelding edged clear to win by a length at the wire.
"He'll do anything you ask him to but you have to ask him for it," O'Connell said. "He's more of a push-button horse but you have to ask him to do everything."
Mula Gula finished second, a neck ahead of Nite Dreamer. Bright Valour came home fourth, followed by Midway Magistrate, Kimberlite Pipe, and Deputy Flag. 44-1 longshot Tucuman was distanced and eased.
Blazing Sword (Sword Dance--Demetroula, by Singular) earned $150,000 for the win, improving his career record on dirt tracks to 11 wins from 28 starts. His overall record stands at 11 wins from 42 starts. He was bred in Florida by Gilbert Campbell. The win also marks his first undisputed graded stakes win since the Calder Derby (gr. III) in November 1997. He finished two lengths behind Lemon Drop Kid in the Widener Handicap (gr. III) in March and was placed first when that rival was disqualified.
Sent off at odds over 10-1, Blazing Sword returned $22.80, $7, and $4.40. The winning exacta paid $108.20. (Chart, Equibase)
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