Edward Sukley's homebred Purim tracked the pressed pacesetter Rockport Harbor and 80-1 shot Chippewa Trail coming off the far turn and assumed command in upper stretch, rolling to victory in the $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park Sunday.
The highly-regarded 4-year-old Rockport Harbor, after forcing his way to the lead on the clubhouse turn and setting a quick pace under Stewart Elliott, tired in the stretch and finished fifth as the 2-5 favorite. Rockport Harbor was looking for his second graded stakes victory since returning last month from a 9 1/2-month absence with a convincing win in the Essex Handicap (gr. III) at the same distance on the Oaklawn main track.
Robby Albarado rode Purim, also making his second start off a layoff, to victory for trainer Tom Proctor. A grade III winner on the turf last season, the 4-year-old son of Dynaformer
won his first stakes on the dirt by two lengths while completing the 1 1/16-mile event in 1:43 3/5.
Purim got a good position early in second as Prince T. led the field out of the gate. But as they reached the clubhouse turn, Rockport Harbor shot past the leaders on the outside and soon opened up a two-length advantage over Purim while setting early fractions of :23 2/5 and :46 4/5. Albarado remained patient on the dark bay as Chippewa Trail moved to put serious pressure on Rockport Harbor approaching the far turn. They went six furlongs in 1:10 4/5 as Purim ranged up the outside coming off the turn, and he soon seized control. He led by 3 1/2 lengths at the sixteenth pole and was kept to the task all the way home.
With Rockport Harbor finishing off the board, Purim, the second choice in the field of eight, paid $10.40, $6.40, and $8.40.
Arch Hill ($7.40, $9.80), James Graham aloft, ran on late to get second by 2 1/2 lengths over Thunder Mission ($9.20) and Corey Lanerie. Greater Good nipped Rockport Harbor by a neck for fourth. They were followed by Real Dandy, Chippewa Trail, and Prince T.
Purim, off since Nov. 25 when he ran seventh in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, returned to action with a second place finish behind Sir Shackleton in a seven-furlong overnight stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 11. He has now won five of his ten starts with earnings of $349,543.