Interactif, runner-up in stakes company three times this season, finally broke through as a 3-year-old when barely holding off a desperate charge from Grand Rapport to win the $150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) by a nose under Javier Castellano Aug. 13 at Saratoga.
A highly thought of juvenile after winning a pair of graded stakes, Interactif had been unable to score in any of his five starts this season prior to Friday. The son of Broken Vow entered off a solid runner-up effort to Paddy O’Prado in the July 17 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT). He is a homebred of Wertheimer and Frere.
The bay colt stalked pacesetters Paris Vegas and Krypton through splits of :24.03, :48.58, and 1:12.94 in the nine-furlong contest. Krypton, third in the Virginia Derby, took over turning for home lead under Rajiv Maragh, but Interactif, never far back, cut the corner nicely from the three-path and came onto even terms at the eighth-pole. Those two were head-bobbing through the stretch while Grand Rapport was coming with his late run from the center of the course.
Interactif had just enough to hold off both rivals, as Grand Rapport outfinished Krypton by a head for runner-up with Ramon Dominguez in the irons. The final time on the firm turf was 1:48.34.
“It was a very exciting race," Castellano said. "It was a small field with not too many horses, and they put up a slow pace with slow fractions. I just took cover on the first turn, saved ground the best I could, but on the far turn I had to make my own decision. Turning for home it looked like three horses were in it and it was going to be a good race. I’m very excited with the way he ran today.”
Interactif, who is out of the Broad Brush mare Broad Pennant, has raced on turf, dirt, and synthetics this year. He lost by a nose in the Hallandale Beach Stakes on the Gulfstream Park turf to begin his campaign, missed by a half-length in the San Felipe (gr. II) on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride in March, and finished fourth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on Keeneland's Polytrack. Pletcher shipped Interactif to Churchill Downs the week of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) but decided to save him for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), where he contested the early pace but tired to finish sixth June 5.
As a 2-year-old, Interactif won the With Anticipation and Bourbon stakes (both gr. IIIT). This was his first trip to Saratoga since his 4 1/4-length romp in the With Anticipation last summer. He improved to 4-3-1 from 11 starts with earnings of $563,350.
“It was about trying to find the right spot for him," Pletcher said. "He’s been ambitiously placed all year. He won his first stakes here on the turf last year. We wanted to get back on track and in the winner’s circle. We will look at the Jamaica (gr. IT, Oct. 9, Belmont Park).”
Sent off as the 4-5 choice in a field of six, Interactif paid $3.60, $2.50, and $2.10. The exacta (1-3) returned $22.60 and the trifecta (1-3-4) was $60.50.
Nordic Truce was fourth, folowed by Citrus Kid, and Paris Vegas.