Preemptive Strike opened up nearly a furlong's lead around the five-turn race before holding off a late charge by former Eclipse Award winner McDynamo to win the hurdle in 4:17 3/5 for the 2 ½ miles over a turf course rated "good."
The winner returned $6.60, $3.60, and $2.60 as the second choice in the field of seven older geldings. McDynamo, the 9-5 favorite, paid $3 and $2.60 and completed a $15.20 exacta. Three Carat was another 8 ¼ lengths back in third, good for a $2.40 show mutuel.
"I knew he would be on the muscle today," said winning trainer Paul Rowland. "I was going to run him last year in the Breeders' Cup, but he hadn't won a grade I, so I chose to go for the easier spot that day. I think he's really improved this year. I'll be disappointed if he's not in the top three in the Breeders' Cup." The race is Oct. 22 at Far Hills, N.J.
"He was really keyed up tonight," said winning jockey Robert Walsh. "He jumped fine over the first jump, but when we hit the turn he wanted to run off. He was jumping nicely the whole way. He never misses any time with his jumps. I didn't expect to be that far in front, but he was going so well. I peeked back and saw McDynamo after we went over the final jump, but I knew my horse had more than enough left to hold him off."
Saturday's win marked the seventh in 24 starts for Preemptive Strike, a 7-year-old gelding by Roanoke from the Far North mare Mirkwood. He has now earned $307,634 for his connections.