Making his third lifetime start, the Stronach Stables' homebred took the lead from pacesetter Incredicat near mid-stretch and drew off in the final furlong for a 5 1/4-length victory. He ran the 1 1/8-mile distance in a record 1:48.97 over the Polytrack and paid $44.50, $18.80, and $11.20 across the board.
Incredicat ($10.30, $7.80), though tiring in the lane, held second gamely at odds of 8-1 by one length, combining with River Rush for a $603.30 exacta. Classic Bryce ($7.40) was third, with Big Creek a head back in fourth. Beeker Street, the 3-1 favorite after winning the first two starts of his career, finished seventh in the field of 11 3-year-olds.
The Plate Trial precedes Woodbine's $1 million Queen's Plate, which is June 24 at 1 1/4 miles on Polytrack. Twenty-five Plate Trial winners have gone on to win the Queen’s Plate, including three of the last four: Not Bourbon (2008), Eye of the Leopard (2009), and Big Red Mike (2010).
River Rush is trained by Reade Baker. The son of Orientate out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Sweet Tart was a good closing second against maiden special weight company going 1 1/16 miles at Woodbine April 29. He rallied on the outside from eighth in the stretch to be beaten by 2 3/4 lengths that day.
“(We were) hung up on the outside at 20-1 with a maiden," Bake said. "I thought he’d close well but I didn’t think he would be that quick.”
Incredicat, breaking from the rail, jumped to a quick early lead and was staked to a one-length edge early by Alex Solis with Beeker Street and Big Creek in pursuit. Incredicat showed the way through fractions of :23.98, :47.36, and 1:10.89 and looked tough in the stretch as Classic Bryce loomed into contention for Luis Contreras.
But it was River Rush, last after a half-mile, that methodically made his way through the field along the inside and charged home best of all while racing a little greenly. He finished stretching out impressively under a strong hand ride from McAleney although he brushed the rail near the sixteenth pole.
The smashing performance eclipsed the former mark of 1:49.19 set in June 2009 by Catch the Luck.
“This horse ran tremendous for me,” said McAleney. “Reade gave me some instruction, if you can save some ground it would really help, so I opted to do as he’d suggested. We had such a wonderful trip. It was just great.”
River Rush was unraced at 2, waiting to make his debut in a one-mile maiden test on the Gulfstream Park turf March 10. The bay colt was no factor while swinging wide and he finished eighth. River Rush had earned $13,886 previously, but collected $86,445 for the Plate Trial win.