Main Sequence earned his third consecutive grade I win in the United States since arriving from England when he narrowly outfought Twilight Eclipse by a neck in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. IT) Sept. 27 at Belmont Park (VIDEO).
Rajiv Maragh was once again aboard Main Sequence, a 5-year-old Kentucky homebred by Aldebaran owned by Flaxman Holdings and trained by Graham Motion.
Jose Lezcano, jockey aboard Twilight Eclipse, lodged an objection against Main Sequence for interference in the stretch but stewards ruled there would be no change in the order of finish.
A replay showed Main Sequence, on the outside, drifting inward just strides before the wire, at the same time Twilight Eclipse floated out when solid contact occurred.
"When he made the lead, it was a little sooner than we wanted," Maragh said of the winner. "He started loafing a little bit; I tried to make him see the other horse and a little contact happened. I felt like I was going to be OK on the inquiry, but it was nerve-wracking."
Main Sequence added the Turf Classic to earlier East Coast wins in the United Nations and Sword Dancer (both gr. IT) stakes. The next stop for the chestnut gelding is the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park.
"What a cool horse. Ironically, I thought he ran his most professional race today and then you had the bump right before the wire," Motion said.
"I was kind of sick, to be honest (during the inquiry). I thought it would have been a little bit cruel to take it away, but he definitely bumped the other horse. I feel bad for West Point (owner of Twilight Eclipse). I train for them and that horse has run three big races and he's come out on the wrong end of them."
Twilight Eclipse was second in the field of seven, with pacesetter Imagining third.
"I got a good trip," Lezcano said of the runner-up's effort. "My horse almost went by, but (Main Sequence) hit me so hard my horse lost his balance. I had to stop riding."
Sent off as the narrow second betting interest at 19-10 odds, Main Sequence completed the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2:26.32 over a firm Widener Course.
Main Sequence, whose American campaign was delayed by illness over the winter, figures to be among the favorites for the Breeders' Cup Turf. The game gelding likes to run them close, however. He won the United Nations by a neck over Twilight Eclipse July 6 at Monmouth Park before his Sword Dancer tally as the favorite at Saratoga Race Course a head in front of Imagining.
Main Sequence was off awkwardly in the Turf Classic, then angled to the inside by Maragh and raced slightly off the rail as Imagining took the early lead over Real Solution with Medal Count stalking on the outside and Twilight Eclipse along the inside. There was no pace on at all as Imagining took the field through a half mile in :50.89 and a mile in 1:39.29.
Main Sequence, racing in fifth around the final turn, split horses as he launched his bid to emerge third on the outside at the top of the stretch. Imagining, who reached the quarter pole still in front by half a length in 2:02.92, continued on the front end through the lane as Main Sequence closed in.
Twilight Eclipse, rallying from between horses along the inside, engaged Main Sequence as he gained a slight advantage in deep stretch over Imagining. Main Sequence and Twilight Eclipse battled it out to the wire in a terrific finish between a pair of determined rivals.
Imagining was one length back in third, followed by Big Blue Kitten , half of the 9-5 favored entry for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Hangover Kid was fifth, followed by the other half of the entry, Real Solution, with Medal Count last.
"They went off the favorites; it's very disappointing," said trainer Chad Brown, who won the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) earlier on the card for the Ramseys with Stephanie's Kitten. "We'll just regroup with both of them. Real Solution just didn't have it today going a mile-and-a-half. Big Blue Kitten ran well. The pace really hurt us."
Carrying 126 pounds Main Sequence paid $5.90, $3.90, and $2.80, keying a $35.80 exacta with 7-1 shot Twilight Eclipse, who ran a winning race while returning $7.20 and $4. Imagining paid $3.60 to show.
Previously trained in Great Britain by David Lanigan, Main Sequence is out of the Pivotal mare Ikat. He extended his career earnings to $1,648,386 with the $360,000 payday. After failing to win in 10 consecutive races during 2012-13, his career line now stands at 7-3-3 in 17 starts. He last won in England in the 2012 Betfred Derby Trial Stakes (Eng-III) on the all-weather at Lingfield in April 2012 before finishing second in the Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I).
Main Sequence is the first foal out of Ikat, who was group III-placed in France. She is out of the stakes-winning Burning Sunset and is half sister to group II winner Smoking Gun (by Smart Strike) and stakes winner Zhiyi (by Henrythenavigator).