Trainer Henry Dominguez was the only one not sweating out the inquiry following the $100,000 Borderland Derby since he saddled both Storming Saint, the eventual winner, and Raise the Bridle, whose neck victory was overturned by stewards Feb. 27 at Sunland Park (VIDEO).
Raise the Bridle, on the inside with Juan Ochoa, and Storming Saint, battling through the lane for Luis Contreras, banged repeatedly in the run to the wire. Stewards decided that the maiden Raise the Bridle, who had inched ahead in the final strides, drifted into the path of the 8-5 favorite Storming Saint and reversed the order to make the son of Sweetsouthernsaint the victor.
The decision dropped Raise the Bridle, a powerfully-built colt owned by the Mine That Bird connections of Mark Allen's Double Eagle Ranch and Dr. Leonard Blach's Buena Suerte Equine, into second place. Mine That Bird coincidentally ran second in last year's Borderland Derby on his unlikely journey toward victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Storming Saint recorded his first stakes win thanks to the disqualification.
Neither Storming Saint, who is owned by Lathrop Hoffman, nor Raise the Bridle are currently nominated to the Triple Crown. But they could renew their rivalry in the $800,000 Sunland Derby (gr. III) March 28.
“Storming Saint is a really talented horse but a bit of a troublemaker," Dominguez said from the winner's circle. "He’s a really good colt. Raise The Bridle also has a lot of talent and is beginning to learn what this game is all about. Both horses will be pointed to the Sunland Derby.”
After Storming Saint, rallying from off the pace, engaged Raise the Bridle in upper stretch, the two colts bumped hard before pulling away from the rest of the nine-horse field. They completed the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds in 1:45.27 over a fast track.
Amen Baby, who set the pace for Agapito Delgadillo with pressure from Raise the Bridle, nosed Haitian Hero for third, finishing nine lengths behind. Fractions for the first six furlongs were :24.13, :48.35, and 1:13.09.
Storming Saint showed no early speed while seventh early but gradually moved into contention on the outside rounding the final bend and quickly drew even with Raise the Bridle in the lane while appearing to shift in. The head-on replay of the stretch run showed the two bumping repeatedly with Raise the Bridle bearing outward.
Tango Tango, the narrow second choice at 9-5 who was shipping in from California for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, stalked the pace in fourth for Jamie Theriot but failed to respond in the stretch and finished a dull sixth.
Contreras, Sunland's leading jockey, rode Storming Saint for the first time in the Borderland.
Storming Saint, making his 2010 debut in the Borderland, won his only prior two-turn race when he broke his maiden by 13 lengths going one mile at Zia Park Nov. 28. His last start came in Sunland's 6 1/2-furlong Riley Allison Futurity Dec. 29, when he finished third on a track labeled "good."
He improved his career mark to 2-1-1 in five races and boosted his earnings to $91,770 with the winning share of $60,000.
Harold J. Plumley bred the winner, who is out of the Storm Bird mare Tomisue's Storm, in Florida. Storming Saint sold for $12,000 as a 2-year-old at the Ocala Breeders' Sale last April.
Despite coming on the track late following shoe repair, Raise the Bridle relaxed well on the lead and delivered a mighty effort in the final quarter mile. The impressive son of Spanish Steps had just one previous start, losing by a nose to Borderland foe Guiltbyassociation in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Sunland Feb. 17.
Storming Saint paid $5.60, $3.60, and $3.20 while topping a $60.60 exacta. Raise the Bridle returned $10.20 and $6.80. Amen Baby tired in his first start beyond 6 1/2 furlongs and was $6.60 to show.
Haitian Hero was followed by Guiltbyassociation, Tango Tango, McKenna's Justice, Chuchuluco, and Nicky Boy.