Potomac River unleashed a torrid outside rally down the Fair Grounds stretch and struck for a thrilling nose decision over Skyring in the $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT) on turf Feb. 22 (VIDEO).
With a pair of 14-1 shots on top, the exacta was worth $261.80.
Potomac River relaxed toward the back of the strung-out field early, with Skyring leading through the opening quarter before Gentleman's Kitten spurted into command on the backstretch and opened a seven-length lead at the three-eighths pole.
Marcelino Pedroza pushed Skyring along to reel in Gentleman's Kitten, however, and retook command in early stretch, opening a comfortable 2 1/2-length advantage. Juan Vargas, who bided his time in sixth around the far turn, angled Potomac River off the rail for a clear run at the quarter pole.
With a tap of the whip, Potomac River uncoiled an explosive burst of acceleration to reach contention at the eighth pole and steadily ate into Skyring’s lead. Although Vargas dropped his whip in the closing stages, Potomac River managed to finish the deal with only a hand ride to nail Skyring at the finish line.
Both the winner and runner-up are sons of the Lane's End resident sire English Channel
Potomac River was timed in 1:50.52 for the 1 1/8 miles on turf rated "good.".
Daddy Nose Best
finished third as the 6-5 favorite, a length behind Skyring, and was followed by Gentleman’s Kitten, who weakened and faded when collared at the three-sixteenths pole. Slip and Drive
, Hard Aces
, and Unitarian
completed the order of finish.
Potomac River’s win was worth $31.40, $14.40 and $5.40. Skyring paid $17.40 and $6.20. Daddy Nose Best, fourth through six furlongs, returned $2.20 in the seven-horse field.
Potomac River, at 45-1 odds, displayed the same late-charging tactics to win the River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) by two lengths in his season finale last November at Churchill Downs
. With the Fair Grounds victory, his second stakes win, his record stands at 6-2-2 from 20 career starts with earnings of $322,676.
Owned by Maribel Ruelas and trained by Sergio Baez, Potomac River was bred in Kentucky by Mereworth Farm. He is out of the winning With Approval mare Reba's Approval, a half sister to grade III winner Reba's Gold.