Under Kent Desormeaux, the H. Graham Motion-trained 6-year-old was eighth at the start of the 1 1/8-mile event and settled toward the back of the pack while stablemate Salinja and Howard Tesher trainee Baron Von Tap contended for the lead through a quarter in :23.71.
The frontrunners went a half in :48.20 before Salinja surrendered to Baron Von Tap, who was followed closely by Giant Wrecker making a three-wide bid through three quarters in 1:12.10.
The field of 10 hit the final turn and went a mile in 1:36.56 with National Captain making a bid for the lead on the outside and Minister’s Joy closing gamely from last. Ballast, however, came from sixth and split horses at the eighth pole, digging in to get the victory by a neck in a final time of 1:48.54 that was just one second off his 2006 performance.
“This horse is very professional,” said Desormeaux. “When you’re finishing a race and you have to get in between a crowd of horses, that professionalism comes in handy. All the way around there he gave me every indication that we would have no problem driving right over everybody if necessary. Once we found that hole in the stretch, he really got to running and just kept (National Captain) from getting by.”
Ballast returned $9, $5.80, and $5.60 to win, while National Captain brought $9.60 and $9.80 under Jose Lezcano and Minister’s Joy paid $5.80 with Manoel Cruz in the saddle. Magic Mecke, Go Between, Presious Passion, Host, Baron Von Tap, and Giant Wrecker completed the order of finish.
A gelded son of Desert Prince out of the Kris mare Suedoise, Ballast was bred in Ireland by M3 Elevage and Haras d'Etreham and was a $97,640 yearling purchase in France in 2002. He raced in Europe until 2006 and came into the Tropical Turf after finishing last in the Sept. 29 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hawthorne. He had not won in five starts this year.
“I can’t tell you what happened in his last race,” said assistant trainer David Rock. “That just wasn’t him and you can throw that one out. He’s been unlucky on a couple of other occasions. He was very brave today coming through between horses.”
The $58,900 winner’s share of the Tropical Turf Handicap’s $100,000 purse boosted Ballast’s earnings to $403,687. His career record from 27 starts now totals 7-7-2.