“It’s just unbelievable,” said Javier Castellano, who rode Corinthian. “He was so good today in the paddock and in the gate. Everything was beautiful. As soon as the gate opened-boom! He just broke in the air. I don’t even know how I stayed on.”
Velazquez immediately knew something was up because he was expecting Magna Graduate to be alongside Corinthian going to the clubhouse turn. “I didn’t worry about it. I worried about the horse in front.”
The horse in front was pacesetter Accountforthegold, who set moderate fractions (:23 3/5, :46 3/5, 1:10 1/5) under Mike Luzzi in the 1 1/8-mile event while Velazquez put Magna Graduate in the garden spot.
“The way my horse was moving at the three-eighths pole I was confident,” Velazquez said. “When Magna Graduate made the lead (approaching the eighth pole) he was waiting, looking around at the cameras and everything. I showed him the whip, but I didn’t want to hit him because he won so easily.”
The final margin was 3 3/4 lengths over Naughty New Yorker, who essentially followed the winner’s trip. Accountforthegold was a neck farther back in third. Popular local entry and grade I winner Evening Attire was another beck back in fourth on what was on off day at age 9. The winning time was 1:48.10.
Corinthian finished fifth, more than eight lengths behind Magna Graduate, beating only Happy Hunting.
Magna Graduate, now 9-for-22 with five graded stakes wins in his last eight starts for owner Elisabeth H. Alexander, earned $125,460 Saturday. The 5-year-old Quiet American horse, coming off a 1 3/4-length win in the Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park March 9, has banked $2,059,410.
The winner returned $6.70, $4.20, $3.50. Naughty New Yorker came back $12.80, 7.50. Accountforthegold accounted for a $5.40 show return.