Gygistar Takes Riva Ridge

Pat Day broke sharply on Gygistar, but was content to let others take the lead. He then came off the rail and went around the leaders to easily win the Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup (gr. II) Saturday at Belmont Park.

Gygistar, who won the Hallandale Handicap in his last start, has now won three of five lifetime outings for owner/breeder Edward Evans and trained Mark Hennig. He covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.61 after fractions of :22.05, :44.02, and 1:09.23.

Earlier on the card, Evans and Hennig watched as their Pleasant County fell in the day's fourth race. She hit her head, causing a skull injury which killed her instantly.

"This win kind of makes our loss earlier a little more painful, because this one is a half-brother (out of the Ogygian mare Starr County) to Pleasant County, who we lost in the fourth race," said Hennig. "I was extremely high on Gygistar and I was looking forward to running both brother and sister today. We've seen the ups and downs today in the game, the barn and the bloodline. Thankfully, it looks as if Pleasant County didn't suffer. This colt was training better than he ever has and came into the race in great shape. I'm very happy with the acceleration he showed."

Day Trader took the early lead with Outstander as Day eased Gygistar back on the rail. Favored Yankee Gentleman, under Jerry Bailey, swept to the lead midway in turn. But Day had lots of horse left and swung off the rail and pushed his mount through to the victory.

Draw Play closed on the rail to get second, with True Direction third and favored Yankee Gentleman fourth.

"We are very disappointed," said trainer Bill Mott of the beaten favorite. "Jerry (Bailey) said he dragged him up there early and maybe too soon."

The winner paid $10.20, $5.80, and $4.60. Draw Play returned $12.20 and $8.60, and True Direction was worth $4.90.

(Chart, Equibase)