Heiligbrodt Racing Stable's Posse and jockey Corey Lanerie tracked a fast pace and chased down Roll Hennessy Roll in the stretch on his way to a solid victory in Sunday's $107,900 Lafayette Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Keeneland.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, the bay colt by Silver Deputy covered the seven-furlong Lafayette distance in 1:23 on a fast track.
Posse had a dream run throughout while relaxed early. Bossanova and jockey Jerry Bailey jumped to an early lead and clicked off some fast fractions, going the opening quarter in :21 3/5 and a half-mile in :44 2/5. Roll Hennessy Roll, a length off the lead on the outside with Shane Sellers aboard in second, took a narrow lead from the front runner at the head of the stretch and was traveling well.
But Posse, racing third about three lengths behind into the turn, overtook him a furlong from the wire with an explosive three-wide burst and went on to a 2 1/4-length victory. Roll Hennessy Roll, co-favored with Posse at 2-1, finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Bossanova, who was third.
"He really ran a great race," said Asmussen. "The horse showed a lot of maturity. I'm very proud of him."
Last year's Champagne (gr. I) winner Whywhywhy, ridden for the first time by Tony Farina, took back at the start and was last by some three lengths in the six- horse field as they made their way into the turn. The colt showed some life with a brief move into the stretch but lacked much punch late to finish fourth, beaten by 6 3/4 lengths. It was the fourth poor race in a row for the son of Mr. Greeley since his 10th place finish as the favorite in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
Posse, who was beaten by 9 1/4 lengths by Midas Eyes in the Swale (gr. III) at Gulfstream in his last race on March 15, proved he is on the rebound after a disappointing 2002.
He showed considerable promise while winning the Kentucky Breeders Cup (gr. III) and finishing second to Lone Star Sky in the Bashford Manor (gr. III) at Churchill. But he ran fourth to Whywhywhy in the Sanford (gr. II) at Saratoga in July did not return until November when he suffered back-to-back eighth-place finishes in the Iroquois (gr. III) at Churchill and the Great State Challenge Juvenile at Sam Houston.
"We got off track with him last year when we went to Saratoga," Asmussen said. "It took a long time for him to get back. I'm just glad the real Posse showed up today."
Posse's fourth win in 10 career starts was worth $66,898, increasing his earnings total to $300,513.
Posse, bred in Kentucky by Robert and Lawana Low, was a $115,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase.
The winner paid $6, $3.60 and $3.20. Roll Hennessy Roll returned $3.40 and $3.20. Bossanova's show price was $4. The $2 exacta with the two favorites was worth $21.60.