Morton Fink’s homebred gelding Successful Dan kept his perfect record in tact when outdueling favored Warrior's Reward to win the $108,900 Northern Dancer (gr. III) (VIDEO) by a head June 13 at Churchill Downs.
A 1 1/16-mile dirt test for 3-year-olds, the Northern Dancer was a two horse race all the way, as Julien Leparoux guided Successful Dan to an early lead and Warrior’s Reward, with Calvin Borel aboard, tracked the leader throughout. Successful Dan, who posted moderate fractions of :24.54, :48.63 and 1:13.01 for six furlongs, continued his tenuous advantage off the turn with Warrior’s Reward right to his outside.
Those two dueled the length of the stretch, with Leparoux urging Successful Dan left-handed while pinned to the rail. The son of Successful Appeal poked a nose in front in deep stretch and held on at the wire, stopping the clock in 1:43.30 on a track labeled ‘fast.’
Warrior’s Reward, an impressive allowance winner last out, settled for second, 3 1/4 lengths better than third-place Omniscient.
“I really thought Calvin was going to come by, but my horse just kept going and kept digging, so he fought and kept a head in front of him, so that was good," Leparoux said. "This is very good horse. He hasn't made any mistakes yet."
It was the third win in as many starts for Successful Dan, who was making his stakes debut for trainer Charles Lopresti. The bay broke his maiden April 10 on the Keeneland Polytrack and came back a month later at Churchill to take an allowance sprint by 5 3/4 lengths under Leparoux.
Bred in Kentucky, Successful Dan is out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle. He has now earned $128,514.
“I think we’ve got a good horse and we’ll see how he comes out of it and go from there," Lopresti said. "He really, really showed some heart here. I thought there for a minute that he was beat, because that’s a very, very good horse that we ran against. That’s a really good horse.”
The winner paid $6.40, $3.20 and $2.40. The exacta (2-3) returned $ 15.40 and the trifecta (2-3-1) was $30.