Team Valor International’s Fairbanks moved into striking position around the far turn, burst to the front in upper stretch, and cruised to the wire a 2 3/4-length winner under Richard Migliore Sept. 27 in the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) (VIDEO) in Illinois.
Sent off as the 7-10 favorite in a field of six, Fairbanks scored his first graded victory since taking the Tokyo City Handicap (gr. III) nearly 18 months ago at Santa Anita. But the 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway entered off a resounding 5 3/4-length win in the Aug. 9 Duke of Magneta Stakes at Saratoga, and now could be on his way back to Santa Anita for a try in the Oct. 25 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
Fairbanks completed 1 1/4 miles on the Hawthorne dirt in 2:04.57. Magna Graduate was second under Christopher Emigh, a neck better than Wayzata Bay. Brothers Nicholas was fourth.
“I didn’t want to be caught in a position where I was committed to being inside and in a duel,” said Migliore, who won the Gold Cup in 2007 aboard Student Council. “Once I got my horse back off the bridle it was no trouble, but the first furlong was a little bit dicey.”
Barcola set the early pace, clicking off fractions of :23.87, :48.90, 1:13.47, and 1:39.02. Better Than Bonds pressed the pace through a mile, while Fairbanks settled nicely into third. Fairbanks made a four-wide move into the stretch, easily grabbed the lead, and maintained his advantage throughout the final furlong.
Bred in Kentucky by Kidder, Gregg, and J. Mamakos, Fairbanks is out of the Time for a Change mare Alaska Queen. He was a $1.85-million purchase at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale and is now 6-4-0 from 18 starts with earnings of $879,768. Todd Pletcher, who earlier in the day saddled Red Giant to a victory in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont, is the trainer.
Fairbanks paid $3.40, $2.40, and $2.10. The exacta (5-4) was worth $10.20, while the trifecta (5-4-1) netted $32.80.
One race later in the $150,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. III), Wise River went wire-to-wire under Francisco Torres to win by a length in the one-mile contest for 3-year-olds and up. The 5-year-old Belong to Me horse earned his first graded win for owner Don Benge and trainer Hanna Clark. He paid $33.40 to win.
Galantas, the post time favorite, finished second but was disqualified and placed third behind Jungle Fighter for interference in deep stretch.