Najran ran away from his field and easily captured the $84,075 Perryville Stakes at Keeneland Friday by 9-1/4 lengths. Flying Free was second by 2 1/4 lengths, with Premier Performer along late for third.
Soaring Free set the early pace, but Pat Day was never far from him, rating just off the leader. Najran grabbed control at the quarter pole and never looked back.
The son of Runaway Groom covered the seven panels on a rain-soaked track in 1:26.00 and returned $5.60, $4.40, and $3.20 as the favorite. Flying Free was good for $10.20 and $5.80, and Premier Performer paid $3.60 for the show.
"It's great when they're going that fast and pricking their ears," said Day. "I don't think it was his all-time favorite surface out there. He's a generous horse with a big engine and a nice mind. He's definitely going places."
Najran raced through two allowance conditions at Saratoga this summer, and has now won four of his six lifetime races. He has earned close to $130,000. Najran is owned by Buckram Oak Farm. He was bred in Kentucky by France and Irv Weiner. The Perryville was his first stakes try.
"All along we've been thinking what a special horse he is. He's been just perfect since we got him," said trainer Nick Zito.
"Obviously this was a top field. Everybody wants to run at Keeneland. Some really good 3-year-olds showed up for this race today."
Several in the field didn't handle the sloppy track well. Potential contenders like Sky Terrace and Ecstatic never threatened, and Danthebluegrassman put in a mild bid down the stretch before finishing fourth.