War Correspondent closes strongly to win the Appleton Stakes.<br><a target="blank" href="http://photos.bloodhorse.com/AtTheRaces-1/At-the-Races-2015/i-sp4jb7v">Order This Photo</a>

War Correspondent closes strongly to win the Appleton Stakes.
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Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin

War Correspondent Captures Appleton

Full brother to Declaration of War wins first graded stakes in one-mile Appleton.

War Correspondent , the 6-5 favorite, got up in the final strides to pass pacesetter Aripeka in winning the Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 28 at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old son of War Front  got the mile on firm turf in 1:34.81, while annexing a neck victory for his first graded stakes win (VIDEO).

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners races the horsea full brother to group I winner Declaration of War who was making his second start of the year in the Appleton. On Feb. 7 he rallied for third, beaten a length by Mshawish , in the nine-furlong Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT). Mshawish ran third earlier in the day in the $6 million Dubai Turf Sponsored by DP World (UAE-I) at Meydan.

In the Appleton, War Correspondent, with John Velazquez up, was content to sit in mid pack as Aripeka and Excaper set the tone up front. The opening quarter went in :23.95 and the half-mile in :47.84. The winner sat along the rail down the backstretch and as they headed into the far turn.

Aripeka, with Julien Leparoux up, spurted away from the field coming out of the bend after three-quarters in 1:11.73 and looked clear, but War Correspondent was coming to his right, eating up ground with each stride. They hit the furlong pole in 1:23.31 and the winner threw down a final eighth in :11.50 to nudge ahead on the line.

"He's improved with every race," winning trainer Christophe Clement said. "He's a very consistent horse. He's fun to train. We'll go back to New York with him. We'll see how he comes out of this before we make any plans.

"I think he got a great ride from (Velazquez). I wasn't sure he was going to get there. I guess that's the reason Johnny is a Hall of Fame jockey."

"It seemed like he was getting there little by little, but once I got to the sixteenth pole, I was almost sure that I'd get there," Velazquez said. "I thought I would try to put him a little closer to the pace. I watched the replay of his last race and it looked like it took him a little while to get going. I think by being a little bit closer I wouldn't have to work as hard to get there today."

Grand Tito rallied to finish another three-quarters of a length back in third, with Dramedy  finishing another 2 3/4 lengths back in fourth in the eight-horse field.

War Correspondent has  2-1-1 mark from four U.S. starts. He made two starts in 2014: a four-length score against allowance company and a second-place finish in Woodbine's Autumn Stakes (Can-II) on Polytrack in early November. War Correspondent went 2-1-1 in four starts in maiden and allowance company in France in 2013. The $92,210 first prize lifts his earnings to $227,189.

The winner was bred in Kentucky by Joseph Allen, the breeder and owner of War Front, who has become one of the top sires in North America. He also sired Declaration of War , highweighted older horse on the European Free Handicap in 2013 and a three-time group I winner. In his lone U.S. start he was third in a blanket finish behind Mucho Macho Man  and Will Take Charge  in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). Declaration of War stands at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky., for $40,000.

War Correspondent is a also a half brother to stakes winner and group II-placed Vertiformer . The three are out of Tempo West, a Rahy filly and half sister to 2012 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Union Rags .

War Correspondent paid $4.40, $3.20, and $2.20. Aripeka paid $7 and $3.80, and Grand Tito returned $2.60. The $2 exacta paid $26.60.