Richard C. Thompson's Irish-bred gelding Ballast won the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder Saturday, in the last of four stakes races on the track's "Grand Slam I" program.The 5-year-old son of Desert Prince defeated Bob's Proud Moment by 1¼ lengths while the post time favorite, Drum Major, finished third.Ridden to victory by Rafael Bejarano, Ballast covered the 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.54 and paid $9.40, $5.00, and $3.20. Bob's Proud Moment paid $13.80 and $5.60, with Drum Major returning $2.80 to show.
"It looked like he fit well in this spot," said trainer Graham Motion (via telephone from Middleburg, Va). "He's not the easiest horse to ride, but it looked like Rafael had him figured out pretty well. It looks like the mile-and-an-eighth around two turns is his best game. "He first came to us last winter, but we didn't bring him to Florida and left him up here to acclimate. We'll keep him going now. He didn't get started this year until May, so he is a relatively fresh horse.""This horse was very aggressive early on in the race," Bejarano said. "I was only concerned about getting good position so I let the speed go and sat off of him. I knew he would finish strong because that's how he is."(Chart, Equibase)