Favored Grand Rapport charged home on the outside for jockey Ramon Dominguez to collar Workin for Hops in the final few strides, registering his first stakes victory in the $250,000 Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) Sept. 25 by a half length over the Delaware Park turf.
Trained by Gary Contessa for owner Earle I. Mack, Grand Rapport was an unlucky second in his most recent start, Saratoga's National Museum Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT), losing by a nose after a wide trip Aug. 13.
Making his third start on grass and his first at Delaware, the winning son of Grand Reward, at 9-5, lagged near the back of the pack while saving ground for Dominguez. He was angled out between horses for room on the final turn and flew home to sweep past Workin for Hops, who had overtaken pacesetter Stormy Lord mid-stretch.
A five-time leading jockey at Delaware Park (2003-06, 2008), this was Dominguez’s first mount of the season at the Stanton track.
“Coming back to Delaware Park was great and to win this race made it even more enjoyable,” said Dominguez. “When I asked him, he really responded. I really like him. He is (a) nice one.”
Grand Rapport completed the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds in 1:48.77 on firm turf.
Workin for Hops, winner of the American Derby (gr. IIT) at Arlington Park prior to a third-place finish in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) last time out, edged Stormy Lord for second by another half a length. Interactif, the 122-pound highweight who defeated Grand Rapport in the Hall of Fame, lacked the needed closing kick and finished sixth in the eight-horse field.
Stormy Lord, ridden by established cozy fractions (:25.45, :49.66, 1:13.05) while leading Workin for Hops through six furlongs. Stormy Lord stubbornly showed the way well into the lane before Workin for Hops bid impressively to take a narrow advantage. Workin for Hops was urged on by jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. in the final eighth but they could not hold off the winner.
“I was little worried about the slow early fractions, but it looked like he was well within himself,” said Contessa. “Plus, we had Ramon (Dominguez), who knows this course as good anybody. Once we made the turn for home and we started moving, I felt good. I have to talk to Mr. Mack, but right now I think we are looking at the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT on Nov. 29) for his next start.”
Grand Rapport began his career last summer on dirt, breaking his maiden at first asking over a muddy track at Saratoga Aug. 23. He would go on to finish unplaced in the Futurity Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park and Aqueduct's Remsen Stakes (gr. II) before being freshened for his 3-year-old campaign on grass. The chestnut gelding began the year with a head victory in a 1 1/8-mile first-level allowance race over a good course at Monmouth Park July 16.
The winner has now captured three of six starts with earnings of $262,139, including the Kent's $150,000 top prize.
Barry and Debra Hardison bred Grand Rapport, who is out of the Native Uproar mare Dance Moccasin, in Kentucky.
Grand Rapport carried 118 pounds and paid $5.80, $3.40 and $3.40, topping a $20.80 exacta with second choice Workin for Hops ($4.20, $3.20). Stormy Lord returned $6.
They Call Me Giant, who trailed for more than six furlongs after hopping at the start, finished fourth. He was followed by Thunder Brew, Interactiff, Lentenor and Majestictroubadour. Kara's Orientation was scratched in favor of the Ontario Derby at Wooodbine.