Strait of Mewsina, trailing the field heading into the turn for home, finished best of all to post a 19-1 surprise in the $250,000 Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) in Illinois.
Ridden by E.T. Baird, the Irish-bred Strait of Mewsina muscled his way into contention in the lane and outran his rivals to the wire for a neck victory over Cherokee Triangle. Snoose Goose, a head back in a blanket finish, nosed out Adriano, the 1-2 favorite, for third in the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds.
Chris Emigh, jockey of third-place finisher Snoose Goose, lodged an objection against the winner, claiming interference at the eighth pole, but stewards made no change in the order.
In earning his first stakes win, Strait of Mewsina ended an eight-race losing streak for owner Richard Ravin and trainer Larry Rivelli. Strait of Mewsina's last victory came in an allowance race on the Keneland turf exactly one year ago.
“I was feeling pretty good after the fast fractions,” Baird said, commenting on what many expected to be a slow early pace. “When you ride a lot of races sometimes it happens. When you look at a race like this, in a race that doesn’t figure to have a lot of pace, sometimes the riders might be told keep their runners forwardly placed. It just set up nicely for us.”
Robscarvic took the lead from Mr. Mischief shortly after the start and set the pace while posting solid fractions of :23.37, :47.72, and 1:12.46. Adriano, ridden in a stalking position off the rail by Kent Desormeaux, was six wide as he rallied grudgingly under strong urging in the lane to briefly lead mid-stretch. But the multiple graded winner was unable to clear and ran out of steam approaching the wire to finish out of the money.
Strait of Mewsina, after saving ground for much of the the trip, was angled out and leaned into Snoose Goose, on the extreme outside, as the field took aim at the leader in upper stretch. He used a sustained rally under brisk urging from Baird to wear down his rivals, getting up in the final few strides. The winning time was 1:49.48.
A son of Spartacus -- Siraka (by Grand Lodge) bred by Frank Rotondo, Strait of Mewsina was coming off a sixth-place showing in a one-mile optional claiming allowance race at Kentucky Downs Sept. 20. The bay colt ran fifth in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park Aug. 9. Strait of Mewsina won for the third time in a 12-race career and bumped his earnings to $212,719 with the winner's share of $145,500.
“That was a pretty big win for us,” said Rivelli. “We bought this horse in Ireland so we obviously figured we could run him in these types of races, being a 3-year-old race this late in the year. I really think this horse wants to run about a mile and a half.
"We’ll probably just put him away for the rest of the year. This was a good way to finish out the year. We obviously put him in a grade I at Arlington. I’m not the kind of guy that will put a horse in a race where I don’t think he has a shot but we were looking a little silly before today.”
Sent off as the sixth choice in a field of eight, Strait of Mewsina paid $41.40, $14.20, and $13.60 while topping a $2 exacta worth $259.40. Cherokee Triangle, winner of back-to-back stakes coming into the Hawthorne Derby for trainer Michael Maker, returned $7 and $7.40 with Victor Lebron aboard. Snoose Goose, winner of a stakes at Arlington Park in his last start, was $12.80 to show for trainer Hugh Robertson.
Adriano finished a head in front of fifth-pace Mr. Mischief. Let It Rock, Robscarvic, and Denim followed.
“It didn't look like we had any huge excuses," said Bill Mott of his trainee Adriano, winner of the Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park in his last start. "The horse will head off to a planned rest.”