Elhayq Surprises in Bowling Green

Shadwell Stable's homebred Elhayq tracked the early leaders and sprinted away at the top of the stretch to win the $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) by 2 3/4 lengths Saturday at Belmont Park. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee completed the 1 3/8 miles in 2:13.81 over firm turf.

Special Coach set the early pace just ahead of Carpenter's Halo, with Elhayq saving ground just behind them. Drama Critic moved up with the top pair on the backstretch while three-wide, with Elhayq now fourth. Elhayq was angled out for the stretch run by jockey Shaun Bridgmohan and bounded clear at the top of the stretch.

"He did have a perfect trip," said McLaughlin. "He relaxed more. Shaun Bridgmohan sat in behind horses and rode a perfect race."

Yankee Dollar closed from last to finish second, a neck ahead of Carpenter's Halo. Incitatus came home fourth, followed by Drama Critic, Epistolaire, Ssssosa, Special Coach, and The Kaiser.

Elhayq (Nashwan--Blushing Groom, by Danzig) raced in England through the end of his 1999 campaign and won three races there while trained by John Dunlop. He made his North American debut in May, finishing sixth in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Aqueduct. Treated with Lasix for the first time in his next start, the 5-year-old won a 1 1/4-mile allowance at Belmont Park. He remains unbeaten while racing with Lasix and won $90,000 for the Bowling Green victory, his fifth from 17 starts.

Elhayq returned $32, $16, and $8.70 across the board and led a $315 exacta. (Chart, Equibase)