Associate took advantage of his inside post position, saving ground early before rallying to catch Band Is Passing in the final strides in Saturday's $150,000 Appleton Handicap (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park. Under Jorge Chavez, 37-1 longshot Associate completed the mile in 1:33.69 on firm turf.
Last year's Appleton winner Band Is Passing missed by a neck in his repeat bid, finishing second, a head in front of El Mirasol. In Frank's Honor crossed the wire fourth, followed by Delay of Game, Honorable Pic, Mandarin Marsh, Special Coach, Reno Rumble, El Angelo, Stans Dream, and Indy Vidual.
While Honorable Pic sprinted through an opening quarter-mile run in :22.79, Associate waited patiently under Chavez in sixth-place. The 6-year-old son of Shotiche continued in sixth as Stans Dream pressed the pacesetter, the top pair running a half-mile in :45.64 and six furlongs in 1:09.44 while separated by a head. Associate had moved up to fifth by that point, about five lengths from the leaders. Chavez guided Associate outside on the turn and the two rallied through the stretch to catch Band Is Passing, who had held a two-length lead in the stretch.
Associate earned his first graded stakes victory and $90,000 for the win, his seventh in 22 career starts. Trained by Leslie R. Weiner for owner James W. Orr Jr., Associate topped his previous earnings total for any one year in his first start of 2001. In his previous best year, Associate earned $77,748 in six starts last year. Associate was bred in Canada by Mark Goodlet.
Associate returned $75, $25, and $13.20. Band Is Passing, the moderate favorite at just over 3-1, paid $5.20 and $4. El Mirasol was worth $13.60 to show. The exacta returned $356.20. (Chart, Equibase