Jockey Corey Lanerie and 13-1 shot Majestic Harbor made a steady rally on the outside rounding the second turn and put away a stiff stretch challenge to win the $400,000 Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) by 2 1/2 lengths on the May 6 Kentucky Oaks card at Churchill Downs.
Settled into fourth early before dropping back, as Cat Burglar set the pace through a mile in 1:36.70, Majestic Harbor made steady progress on the outside and dueled with Majestic Affair and Cat Burglar before putting those two away in mid-stretch.
The winner, trained by Paul McGee for Gallant Stables partnership, completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.10. An 8-year-old son of Rockport Harbor out of the French Deputy mare Champagne Royale, Majestic Harbor paid $28.80, $10, and $5. Eagle held second to deliver $4 and $3, and Majestic Affair completed the trifecta, paying $4.40 to show. Noble Bird , the 2-1 favorite who won last year’s Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill, never fired and finished last in the eight-horse field.
The victory was worth $240,560 and increased Majestic Harbor’s earnings to $1,246,814 with a record of 41-10-8-6.
"He is a good ole war horse," said Ron Beegle, who manages the partnership of six longtime friends. "They don’t make them like this anymore. There is obvious interest in the 2-yar-olds and 3-year-olds, but these older horses don’t get the respect they should. He's been a dream come true for all of us."
Lanerie said the race set up just like he had hoped.
"I thought I would be in front or sitting just on the outside stalking," he said. "Going down the backside, I loved my position. When I raised my stick to see if I had anything, you can feel him sitting me down in the saddle. The horse on the inside gave me engaged me for a little bit and I got little concerned but once I shook him loose he was gone. I was looking for Eagle to come but he didn’t catch me today.”
“He had a good look all the way around there," McGee said. "He’s a classy horse, he’s a millionaire, and he showed his class today. He’s been a very sound horse all along, he really has.
Bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm and Brandywine Farm, Majestic Harbor won the 2014 Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I) for trainer Sean McCarthy. Previous to the Alysheba, the horse won the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots before being elevated to fourth from fifth in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II).