Hap, successfully defending his Bernard Baruch title.

Hap, successfully defending his Bernard Baruch title.

AP/NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Hap Scores Again in Baruch

Michael Paulson and Edward White's Hap made it two consecutive Bernard Baruch (gr. II) victories when he easily pulled away from the field to score by two lengths over a 'good' Saratoga turf course. Hap covered the nine furlongs in 1:47.00 under Jerry Bailey.

Presente Senor gained the early lead and maintained it over Pebo's Guy and Dr. Kashnikow. Hap was back fourth along the rail up the backstretch as Sumitas went up to challenge Presente Senor before dropping back. Bailey moved the 1-2 favorite off the hedge for clear sailing around the final turn, and Hap readily responded. Royal Strand's impressive late run was good for second under Pat Day, with Dr. Kashnikow finishing third.

Hap, conditioned by Bill Mott, has now won three graded stakes in a row since finishing up the track in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I). He scored in the grade II Dixie at Pimlico in May and came back to take the grade III New Hampshire Sweepstakes Handicap last month by seven lengths over Gander. His share of the $150,000 Baruch purse pushes Hap's earnings up near the $700,000 mark. Hap was bred in Kentucky by Allen Paulson, who raced his sire, Theatrical. Hap paid $3.00 for the win.

"Hap came through for us then and came through for us again today," Mott said. "It was our first win of the meet and, hopefully, that will get things going for us. Hap looks as good as he did last year. He's obviously more seasoned now. He won this race as easily as he did last year. It is a very good race for him. I'm thinking about the Arlington Million (August 18th). There's a very good possibility that he and King Cugat could run in there. I might give Jerry [Bailey] the option of which one he wants to ride. I know he likes Hap an awful lot, and I'm sure his agent (Ron Anderson) will have something to say about it as well. I think he's better at a mile and an eighth than he is at a flat mile. I have no reason to believe that he couldn't stretch out a little farther, whether he would be quite as effective I don't know. He relaxes well early on and always has a good punch to him. My gut feeling is he could probably get the mile and a quarter [at Arlington]."

"Hap is a very good horse," said Elliott Walden, trainer of runner-up Royal Strand. "My horse is nice and honest. I thought going into the race we were second-best, and coming out of the race, I think we're second-best. He was in an allowance yesterday, but when I saw there were only six entered, I wanted to run him in here. Plus, the race came off the turf yesterday anyway. We'll shop around and find a spot for him. You have to keep this horse moving."

(Chart, Equibase)