Heaven's Runway rallied from the far outside and overtook favorite Stallwalkin' Dude in deep stretch for his first graded stakes win in the $200,000 Fall Highweight (gr. III) Nov. 24 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Owned by Michael Dubb and Michael Imperio, Heaven's Runway, who went off at 32-1, hit the wire in 1:10.19 in the six-furlong sprint.
Heaven's Runway, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, stayed off The Great War's early fractions of :22.60 for a quarter-mile and :45.45 for a half on the main track. Stallwalkin' Dude, the 4-5 favorite, outkicked The Great War at the top of the stretch to take the lead, but jockey Junior Alvarado urged Heaven's Runway to gain ground in the final furlong to defeat Stallwalkin' Dude by a neck.
"I just followed instructions," Alvarado said. "Rudy was very, very confident with this horse. In the paddock he told me he claimed this horse exactly for this race. I took his word, because he's a very good trainer. He only told me, 'Save ground (and) stay on the rail as long as you can. If you find a way inside, then go for it. If not, tip out.'
"I just made sure to do exactly what he told me to do and it worked out. We got the trip and we got the win. I knew they were going to come back I just had to gauge if I would have enough kick in the end. There were some very nice horses in the race. I couldn't really get excited until we passed the wire."
The 6-year-old son of Run Away and Hide posted his first win since the 2015 Hockessin at Delaware Park, spanning 13 starts. It was the first time in three starts he ran on dirt since Rodriguez claimed him.
"When I claimed this horse, believe it or not, I claimed him for this race," Rodriguez said. "I knew he was going to be OK for this race and he didn't prove me wrong. It made the owners happy today."
Heaven's Runway paid $66.50 to win and increased his earnings to $537,925.
Stallwalkin' Dude finished in the money for a fifth consecutive start for trainer David Jacobson, who previously trained Heaven's Runway.