Rapid Proof Rallies for Hopemont Surprise

Rapid Proof, an 8-1 outsider, rallied from last place in a field of 10 2-year-olds to win the $115,000 Hopemont Stakes Friday at Keeneland.

The son of Fast Play circled the field under jockey Calvin Borel, caught Zydeco Affair in midstretch and posted a one-length victory. Trained by Hall Wiggins, he ran one mile on the yielding turf in 1:46 2/5.

On the also eligible list, Rapid Proof and Collateral Damage drew into the race only after Alpler and Randwick were scratched.

"When I saw he (Rapid Proof) was on the also eligible list I said, 'Oh Lord,'" said Borel. "When he got in the race I told Hal that he would win for sure because he's been beggin' for the extra ground."

Zydeco Affair, ridden by Robby Albarado and seeking a fourth consecutive victory, held on for second, a neck in front of third-place Collateral Damage with Jose Martinez, Jr. aboard.

Lismore Knight, the 7-10 favorite, finished fourth.

Rapid Proof won for the second time in six career starts and earned $71,300 for owner Dolphus C. Morrison of Birmingham, Ala. The winner paid $19.20, $6.80 and $5.20.

"Calvin was very optimistic," said Wiggins. "He was very confident in this colt and told me not to worry. He's run three times on the grass and run great all three times. He's got Alleged on the bottom side and I think that's what makes him such a good turf horse."

Zydeco Affair returned $5 and $4 and Collateral Damage paid $11.20.

With one day remaining in the 17-day meeting, Pat Day already has assured himself of a 20th riding title at Keeneland. Day ended the afternoon with a total of 24 victories, seven more than Albarado, the runnerup.

Both Day and Albarado will be in Chicago Saturday to ride in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Dale Romans secured his second straight fall trainer's title, increasing his total to eight for the meeting with a win on Friday. Neither Carl Nafzger nor Nick Zito, who are tied for second with six wins, has an entrant on Saturday.

(Chart, Equibase)