Andromeda's Hero overpowered his stablemate Seek Gold with a big move on the far turn and sped to victory in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) Saturday at Calder Race Course, his first win in 10 starts.
The victory ended a long dry spell for the Robert LaPenta owned and Nick Zito-trained Andromeda's Hero, who last won Feb. 26 at Tampa Bay Downs in the Sam F. Davis. The Belmont Stakes (gr. I) runner-up in June triumphed for the third time in 14 starts.
With Rafael Bejarano in the irons, the 3-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus
won the 1 1/8-mile Hooper in a time of 1:53 2/5, easily defeating Seek Gold, who was ridden by Edgar Prado, by 1 3/4 lengths. The entry, sent off at 7-10, paid $3.40, $3.40, and $2.20. It was seven lengths back to the third-place finisher, Whos Crying Now ($3) and Manoel Cruz.
The 50-1 shot Grand Canyon led through easy early fractions of :24 3/5 and :50 1/5 before Seek Gold could wait no longer and took over heading into the far turn. They completed six furlongs in 1:15. Andromeda's Hero, racing sixth after three-quarters, was in full stride on the turn and soon took control while four wide entering the stretch.
A $310,000 Keeneland yearling sale in September 2003, Andromeda's Hero was produced by the Storm Bird mare Marozia. Barnett Enterprises bred him in Kentucky.
Coming off a fourth-place finish when facing older horses for the first time in the 1 1/8-mile Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs last month, Andromeda's Hero has now earned $578,307. Besides his runner-up finish in the Belmont, the chestnut colt ran third in both the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and the Jim Dandy (gr. II) this year.
Andromeda's Hero carried 114 pounds to victory.
Supervisor came home fourth, followed by Itsawonderfulife, Dazzling Dr. Cevin, Sir Jackie, Military Major, and Grand Canyon.