Proud Man earned his fourth grade III stakes win of the year Saturday, inching to the lead late in the stretch to win the $114,600 Hill Prince Stakes by a neck at Belmont Park.
Rene Douglas earned the win by guiding Proud Man to a ground-saving trip, completing the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.25 on firm turf. Package Store closed well to finish second, finishing a head in front of pacesetting favorite Navesink. Volponi, Harrisand, Whitmore's Conn, Sir Brian's Sword, Reluctant Groom, Perfect Stranger, and Berchtesgaden completed the order of finish.
"Navesink is a nice horse and he was moving pretty easily on the lead and I wanted to make sure he never got out of my sight," said Douglas. "Everything worked out perfectly for my horse and I. We saved ground and just wore down Navesink. He (Proud Man) keeps getting better and better. He's got to be the best three-year-old turf horse in the country."
Proud Man began the year with three consecutive wins in grade III turf races in South Florida, winning the Tropical Park Derby, Palm Beach Stakes, and Everglades Stakes in succession over three different turf courses. He was switched to the main track for his next start, in which he finished last of nine in the Flamingo Stakes (gr. III). Back on the turf, he finished second to Kalu in the Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) last month.
Proud Man (Manlove--Proud Entrance, by At the Threshold) was bred in Florida by Max Hugel and is owned by Robert Kaufman, Double R Stable, and Stephen Weiss. The Harry Benson-trained 3-year-old earned $68,760 for the win, his sixth in 13 career starts.
Proud Man returned $9.20, $4.70, and $2.80 as the second wagering choice. Package Store paid $15.80 and $7.70. Navesink returned $2.90 to show. The winning exacta combination paid $132. (Chart, Equibase