St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds' Ring Weekend prevailed in tight three-horse finish and set a turf course record in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) Sept. 5, closing day at Saratoga Race Course.
Ring Weekend ran down pacesetter Take the Stand, who was on the rail, while Jay Gatsby tried to squeeze between the two inside the final furlong. Bumping through the closing stages with Ring Weekend slightly leading just before the sixteenth pole, the trio reached the finish line in near unison. Ring Weekend thrust out his neck for John Velazquez to finish the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in a record 1:38.29. The time eclipsed the previous mark of 1:38.54 set by Ironicus in last year's Bernard Baruch.
Jay Gatsby was second, a nose in front of Take the Stand in third.
There was stewards' inquiry over the bumping match, but they let the result stand.
Ring Weekend, the 5-2 favorite, paid $7.90, $3.90, and $2.90, Jay Gatsby returned $4.30 and $2.90, and Take the Stand paid $3.40 to show.
Take the Stand clocked early fractions of :23.26, :46.59, and 1:09.09 for six furlongs with Solemn Tribute tracking just behind and Ring Weekend in fourth, then third. Take the Stand had a clear lead into the lane, but Ring Weekend had dead aim and rallied smartly to engage the front-runner as Jay Gatsby joined in for the run to the wire.
"I was pretty certain when (Jay Gatsby) got between us and (Take the Stand), I went to lean a little bit, but I saw the horse on the inside (Take the Stand) start coming out and I eased out with him at the same time. You can see how far out we came from the rail because the horse on the inside was coming out, so I was not concerned (about the inquiry)," Velazquez said.
Ring Weekend, paid $7.90, $3.90, and $2.90, Jay Gatsby returned $4.30 and $2.90, and Take the Stand paid $3.40 to show.
Ring Weekend, a 5-year-old son of Tapit who has six wins from 17 starts, including his victory in the 2015 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT), was bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds.
West Point Thoroughbreds and St. Elias bought Ring Weekend, whose dam is the stakes-placed Crytoclearance mare Free the Magic, for $310,000 from Gainewsay's agency at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Ring Weekend was one of two graded winners on Monday for Gainesway resident and leading sire Tapit, whose son Scuba won the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup Stakes (gr. III) at Parx Racing. On Saturday, Tapit 2-year-old fillies Pretty City Dancer and Sweet Loretta finished in a dead head in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, where son Frosted was third in the Woodward (gr. I).
Farhaan, Dubai Sky, Reporting Star, Takeover Target, Solemn Tribute, and Natchez completed the order of finish. War Dancer was scratched.