Won at 4WESTCHESTER H.
(gr. III , 8f , defeating Grasshopper, Sightseeing, Miner's Lamp, Mr. Umphrey, Saint Daimon ).
Divine Park turned the mile Westchester Handicap (gr. III) opening day at Belmont Park into a rout. The 4-year-old son of Chester House drew clear in the stretch to post a five-length score over 3-5 favorite Grasshopper in 1:32.74. Divine Park recorded a 111 Beyer Speed Figure, the co-fourth highest of the year for races up to a mile.
The Westchester, contested April 30, is the second stakes win for Divine Park, who is owned by James J. Barry. Divine Park captured the Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct last April for his third straight win.
Following the Withers, Divine Park was off until December. He ran unplaced in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) in his first race back, then was beaten in the General George Handicap (gr. II) in February in his 2008 debut. He went into the Westchester off an optional claiming score at Aqueduct March 28.
ÒIn the Malibu, he was coming off an eight-month layoff and drew the 14-hole, and it wasnÕt that bad of a race,Ó said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. ÒAt Laurel (in the General George), he broke through the gate.Ó
McLaughlin has tentatively set the May 26 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont as the next stop for Divine Park.
ÒThe Met Mile is a little quick back for us, but it is hard to pass off a race like this,Ó he said.
Bred in Kentucky by Catesby Clay and his Runnymede Farm, Divine Park was consigned by the farm as agent to the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale. Charles Simon bought him as agent for Barry for $20,000. Barry also won last yearÕs Xtra Heat Handicap at Belmont with Genuine Devotion.
Runnymede, located near Paris, Ky., has bred numerous stakes winners over the years, alone or in partnership. They include grade I winner Marylebone and other graded winners such as Awesome Gem, GreeleyÕs Galaxy, Midnight Cry, and Tejano Run. The last-named ran second in the 1995 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Runnymede no longer owns Divine ParkÕs dam, High in the Park. Consigned by Runnymede, agent, and barren, she was bought by EMFO Racing for $3,500 at the 2007 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale. The very next month, Divine Park started on the road to stardom with a win in his first start.
High in the Park is the dam of six named foals of racing age, four of which are winners.
Deceased Chester House has sired 23 stakes winners. His eight added-money winners of 2008 also include graded/group winners Hostess, Phoenix Tower (in England), Spring House, and Ventura. Chester House stood at Khalid AbdullahÕs Juddmonte Farms near Lexington prior to his death in June of 2003.ÑD.S.
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