Allen Paulson's 3-year-old homebred Rob's Spirit swept to the lead at the top of the stretch and pulled away to win the $150,000 Lexington Stakes (gr. IIIT) by 5 1/2 lengths over soft turf Sunday at Belmont Park. With Jerry Bailey in the irons, the Bill Mott trainee completed the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.87.
Team Valor's Plato, making his North American debut after two races in Ireland, finished second, a neck in front of the pacesetting longshot Rumsonontheriver. Aldo came home fourth, followed by Parade Leader and Be Mine Tonight.
Rumsonontheriver ran an honest opening quarter of :23.76, before slowing the pace with subsequent quarters in :24.81 and :24.70. He held a five-length lead over the winner after six furlongs run in 1:13.27. The next quarter was run in a dawdling :25.38, with Rob's Spirit trimming the lead to 1 1/2 lengths after a mile in 1:38.65. Rob's Spirit rolled by the tiring pacesetter in the stretch and completed the second-fastest quarter-mile of the race (:24.22) as he drove to the wire.
"I couldn't have asked for a better trip," said Bailey. "He's got a great cruising speed and he lets you sit him where you need to. The turf didn't seem all that soft to me, but he handled the going great anyway."
Rob's Spirit is by Theatrical and out of the Alydar mare Winglet, dam of Eclipse award winner Ajina. Previous to the Lexington, Rob's Spirit finished second to Promontory Gold in the Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) in June. He earned $90,000 for the win, his third in five starts.
The odds-on wagering choice, Rob's Spirit returned $3.70, $2.70, and $2.20. The winning exacta combination paid $21.60. (Chart, Equibase