Trainer Edward Graham doesn't dawn the doors of Arlington International Racecourse often. When he does, he leaves with a heck of a parting gift.
Graham, whose has only saddled three starters at the Illinois track—including 2014 Arlington Million Stakes (G1T) winner Hardest Core—dropped in and picked up another graded stakes triumph when Postulation outfooted seven other marathoners to take the American St. Leger Stakes (G3T) going 1 11/16 miles.
Hindsight shows Postulation was primed to follow in Hardest Core's footsteps as he, like the former Graham trainee, prepped for his big day at Richard Duchossois's palace by winning the Cape Henlopen Stakes at Delaware Park. That July 8 victory ended a six-race losing streak for Postulation and gave the 5-year-old Harlan's Holiday gelding his first stakes win since coming over from Ireland, where he made his first eight starts.
"When you watch his race at Delaware Park, (jockey) Alex (Cintron) said he couldn’t even pull him up and that the outrider had to pull him up," Graham said. "I didn’t think there was a question, and I thought he would get it done. I don’t know, I guess this is just luck here."
Distance has proven to be Postulation's friend, and such was the case Saturday. After tracking third in the two-path as the field went by the stands for the first time, he settled close to the rail under jockey Jorge Vargas Jr. as longshot Crewman stretched his legs out front through opening fractions of :25.19, :49.58, and six furlongs in 1:13.82.
When Applicator moved up to wrest control of the lead with about five furlongs to go, Postulation surged in kind with Bullards Alley at his hip, only to have that one abruptly take up when Applicator appeared to duck out. There would be no halting Postulation's progress, however, as Runnymede Racing's veteran continued on the inside path, took command with four furlongs remaining, and turned back an attempted bid by favored Keystoneforvictory coming into the lane.
Taghleeb made a bid down the middle of the stretch to try and close the distance but could do no better than place honors behind Postulation, who was 2 1/4 lengths in front at the wire.
"I wanted to relax him—that was the plan since it was such a long race, but he wanted to be on the pace," Vargas said. "When I asked him, he just took off."
Sent off at 5-1 odds, Postulation covered the distance in 2:49.45 over a course rated firm and returned $12.40, $6.60, and $3.80 across the board. Keystoneforvictory was third with Tobias and Bullards Alley rounding out the top five.
Bred by Juddmonte Farms out of the Dansili mare Supposition, Postulation improved his record to five wins from 16 starts and $293,769 in earnings. In his North American debut, he finished sixth in the 2015 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T). He was sixth in the 2016 Sycamore Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland in his only other graded stakes tries prior to Saturday.