The son of Tapit
dug in to edge runner-up Oliver Zip
, with 13-10 favorite Kobe's Back
a half-length back in the third after a torrid outside rally from last. Coup de Grace, ridden by Javier Castellano, tallied at odds of 7-1.
Pressed by Oliver Zip then Loki's Vengeance
in the early stages, Favorite Tale
set a swift pace, clocking opening fractions of :22.55 and :45.27 for a half-mile with Coup de Grace ideally positioned in fifth and sixth, several lengths behind the front-runners. Kobe's Back raced at the back of the field after a tardy start.
Entering the stretch, Favorite Tale threw in the towel and The Admiral
took charge with Oliver Zip challenging to his outside. Angled five wide on the turn, Coup de Grace rapidly gained ground down the center of the track and joined the battle with The Admiral and Oliver Zip, thrusting a nostril in front as Kobe's Back desperately closed and just failed to collar the top two.
"The way I handicapped the race, it was a lot of speed. (Trainer) Chad (Brown) and I talked about the race and we tried to take advantage of a lot of speed in the race," said Castellano. "We tried to come from behind, quicken it up a little bit. The distance, seven-eighths, I think he's a come-from-behind horse. He didn't break that sharply, and it worked out great for me. I was able to relax behind the horses. He finished very strong today."
The winner covered seven furlongs in 1:23.19 on a fast track.
Coup de Grace won a six-furlong race Aqueduct in his career debut last November and made his next start a winning one as well in a one-turn mile in December at Gulfstream Park
, but then suffered his first loss when 10th behind Cairo Prince
in a troubled trip in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 25 at Gulfstream.
Carrying 116 pounds, Coup de Grace paid $16.20, $7.50 and $4. Oliver Zip brought $7.30 and $4, and Kobe's Back, the 123-pound hihgweight, returned $2.70. The Admiral was fourth, followed by Charleymillionaire
, Financial Mogul
, Favorite Tale, and Loki's Vengeance.
Bred in Kentucky by AGS Thoroughbreds, Coup de Grace was bought by Rick Porter Fox Hill Farms for $300,000 from the VanMeter Sales consignment at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale. His dam is the stakes-placed Storm Cat mare Home Court, a daughter of 1996 champion older female Jewel Princess.