After a second-place run at Del Mar in his U.S. debut in November, the 3-year-old Dandy Man colt worked his way up the class ladder at Santa Anita and broke through for his first stakes win in the $200,000 Pasadena Stakes March 17.
With East Coast jockey Joel Rosario shipped in just in time to ride River Boyne in the one-mile Pasadena, the Jeff Mullins trainee tracked dueling leaders Afleet Ascent and Platinum Equity in fifth into the first turn and in the backstretch. Still fifth turning for home, he closed four wide to beat Inscom by a length.
"I was a little bit nervous that I wouldn't get here in time today," said Rosario, who missed his first four scheduled mounts Saturday. "We had a delay in Florida, and then, when I got here, there was a lot of traffic on the road. I'm glad I was able to make it.
"He was very kind. He broke well. I asked him a little bit, because he got off a little slow, but he got going right away. He just took me after that."
Afleet Ascent set the pace, with pressure from Platinum Equity and Heck Yeah early in the backstretch. Heck Yeah, who came into the race undefeated, backed off later in the backstrech run, and the fractions went in :23.54, :47.03, and 1:11.59. Afleet Ascent still had a half-length advantage late in the turn, but at the top of the lane it was clear the race would be between River Boyne and Inscom.
The top two were 2 1/2 lengths clear of the field, and an ideal trip up the rail for Kaleem Shah's Inscom resulted in his second runner-up stakes effort. His first came by a head against Pubilius Syrus, who was scratched from the Pasadena, in the Dec. 29 Eddie Logan Stakes.
River Boyne hit the wire in 1:35.92 for his third straight win following two open-length scores on the Santa Anita grass.
Bred in Ireland by Limestone and Tara Studs, out of the Mark of Esteem mare Clytha, River Boyne was a $97,358 purchase by his owners out of the 2017 Tattersalls Autumn horses in training sale. He has a 3-2-0 record from seven starts after he went winless in three tries in England and Ireland.
Video: Pasadena S. (BT)
Earlier on the card at Santa Anita, Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz's Miss Sunset put in a dominant performance in the off-the-turf Irish O'Brien Stakes for California-bred fillies and mares. Under jockey Mike Smith, the Into Mischief filly set a fast pace and pulled away late to win the 6 1/2-furlong test by seven lengths over longshot Cuddle Alert. It was the fifth California-bred stakes victory (and eighth stakes win overall) for Miss Sunset, who now has a 9-1-2 record from 15 starts and $738,735 in earnings for trainer Jeff Bonde.