Divine Park Overpowering Withers Winner
The $20,000 son of Chester House showed good speed from his rail post for Alan Garcia after breaking last, took command after a quarter mile while setting solid fractions in the one-turn mile event, then drove clear in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths over favored C P West. The winning time was 1:34 3/5.
The $200,000 Peter Pan (gr. II) at nine furlongs at Belmont Park on May 20 and the $1 million Preakness (gr. I), $1 million at 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico on May 19 are the immediate options for the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Divine Park, who has three wins to his credit since breaking his maiden in his debut at Aqueduct in February. He followed that with a come-from-behind win over allowance rivals April 7 going seven furlongs at Keeneland three weeks ago.
"We liked him today, but we didn’t think he would win by three or four," said Artie Magnuson, assistant to McLaughlin. "He had to work for it today. He is still a little green in the stretch. We won from off the pace at Keeneland, on the lead here and sitting in his first race. He’s a special horse.”
Divine Park engaged the speedy Street Magician shortly after the start, taking the lead following an opening quarter mile of :22 4/5. The bay colt set fractions of :45 2/5 and 1:09 3/5, shaking off Street Magician to open a three-length advantage in the lane. Divine Park held sway as C P West, ridden by Edgar Prado, finished well on the outside to get second by 1 1/4 lengths over 21-1 shot Frosty Secret, who was piloted by Cornelio Velasquez.
“He broke so good," said Garcia. "I didn’t think he was going that fast. Before the quarter-pole, I was thinking who is coming, but it was nobody. He was green a little bit, but he is very nice.”
Divine Park earned $90,000, increasing his bankroll to $149,475. Runnymede Farm Inc. & Catesby W. Clay bred the winner, who is out of High in the Park, by Ascot Knight, in Kentucky and was sold at Keeneland as a yearling in September 2005.
Sent off as the second choice, Divine Park paid $7.70, $3.70 and $3.50. C P West, the 19-10 choice for trainer Nick Zito, returned $3.30 and $2.80. Frosty Secret, who defeated C P West by a nose in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park one month ago, was $6.40 to show.
“I had to wait a little bit," Prado said of the favorite. "When I turned him loose, he started gaining. The winner had everything his way. On paper, it looked like a lot of speed, but unfortunately, a lot of horses got left.”
Mint Slewlep finished fourth, followed by Street Magician, Our Sacred Honor and Brisco N Logan.
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