Sent to post as the third choice in the field of seven 3-year-olds, Rock On Justin broke last but quickly recovered and spurted up the rail to take a spot behind the pacesetter. Straightening out for home, he emerged with the lead and pulled away to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:24.58 for the seven-furlong distance over the fast main track.
The Russell Cash-trained entry of Shipwreckstreasure and Adduce finished second and third, respectively, and St John’s Gospel was fourth. Post time favorite In The Juice never found his way into contention and finished fifth.
Rock On Justin paid $8.20 and set off a $33.80 exacta and an $88.80 triple.
“He did it on his own,” said Maragh, an apprentice rider. “He’s really comfortable and easy to ride. I was concerned about Jeremy Rose’s horse (In The Juice) but when he came up next to me I didn’t need to use the whip and my horse kept going. At that point I got very confident.”
The son of Rock Slide has won four of his last five races since finishing ninth in the Maryland Million Nursery on Oct. 4.
“He’s always shown a lot of talent,” trainer Gary Capuano said. “We thought a lot of him early. I rushed him into the Maryland Million and should not have run him. Since then he has done nothing wrong. The only time he lost he had an excuse. He showed a lot today. He broke bad, rushed up, and he looked like he was dropping back on the turn, but when Tony eased him out he took off and finished off nice. To overcome that was impressive.”
The Maryland-bred, who is now four-for-five at the distance, boosted his lifetime earnings to $82,780.