Magna Graduate wins the Pegasus Stakes at the Meadowlands.

Magna Graduate wins the Pegasus Stakes at the Meadowlands.

Equi-Photo, Bill Denver

Magna Graduate Takes Pegasus Honors

Elisabeth H. Alexander's Magna Graduate took command turning for home and held 54-1 shot Crown Point at bay through the lane to take the $250,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) at the Meadowlands on Friday, opening night of the 2005 Thoroughbred season.

Magna Graduate covered the 1 1/8-mile distance over a fast main track in 1:47 2/5 and returned $6, $3.60, and $3 as the 2-1 choice in the field of eight 3-year-old colts and geldings. Crown Point, who tried the winner at the quarter pole, finished 1 1/4 lengths back and returned $34.20 and $11. The exacta was worth $166.60. Network was another 5 ¾ lengths back in third and good for a $3.80 show mutuel.

Magna Graduate raced close to the leaders in the early stages and made his move to the front approaching the top of the stretch. Crown Point immediately challenged him, and they battled through the stretch with Magna Graduate pulling away in the final yards.

"In the first turn, I thought we were in a perfect spot," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "This time he got challenged turning for home and was able to respond well in the stretch. It was a nice race from him tonight. We'll look at our options after this. The Discovery Handicap on the Breeders' Cup undercard (Oct. 29) at Belmont is a good possibility."

Winning jockey John Velazquez was equally as pleased with the colt's performance, "Tonight, he was very impressive," said the Eclipse winning rider. "We inherited the lead a little earlier than I would have liked, but when the other horse came at him, he responded right away."

The Pegasus win marked the fourth in 13 starts for Magna Graduate, a son of Honor Grades from the Fast Play mare Peacock. He has now earned $619,082 for his connections.

Completing the order of finish was Andromeda's Hero, Tani Maru, Naughty New Yorker, Golden Man, and Doctor Voodoo.

(Chart, Equibase)