Phipps Stable’s homebred Gone Astray wrapped up his first graded stakes victory in a big way, as he drew off in the stretch to score in the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) (VIDEO) by 9 1/4 lengths Sept. 7 at Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack.
A 3-year-old son of Dixie Union, Gone Astray had been winless in his last four starts and had just a win to show from six starts this season. But the dark bay or brown colt had shown improvement in his last two, finishing second in stakes races at Monmouth Park and Saratoga. The winner is trained by Shug McGaughey.
As expected, Nick Zito trainee Our Edge, who last raced a little more than a week ago when finishing last in the Shadwell Travers (gr. I), broke to the early lead under C.C. Lopez. The son of The Cliff's Edge led the way through splits of :23.89, :47.67, and 1:11.46 while Join in the Dance pressed the pace.
With Eddie Castro in the irons, Gone Astray raced mid-pack through the backstretch, but inched his way closer to the leaders approaching the far turn and made his winning three-wide move while cutting the corner. He led by 2 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole and drew off with authority in upper stretch.
The final time for 1 1/8 miles on a dirt track rated “fast” was 1:48.27. Join in the Dance did well to hold second, two lengths in front of third place Kelly Leak.
Gone Astray, who was bred in Kentucky and is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Illicit, earned his only other victory this season April 4 at Aqueduct in an allowance contest. He was a well-beaten third to Mr. Fantasy in the Withers (gr. III) later that month, and sixth in the Woody Stephens (gr. II) at Belmont in June.
Overall, Gone Astray is 3-3-2 from 11 lifetime starts and his $600,000 winner’s share in the Pennsylvania Derby upped his career earnings to $764,657.
Sent off as the third choice in a field of eight, Gone Astray paid $11.40, $6.40, and $4.40. The exacta (7-1) returned $63, and the trifecta (7-1-3) was $238.
Duke of Mischief, the 2-1 favorite, was fourth, followed by Bunker Hill, Our Edge, Denver, and Endymion. Morning-line favorite Soul Warrior was scratched.
In the $250,000 Turf Monster one race prior, it was 8-5 favorite Chamberlain Bridge who took top prize. Owned by Carl Moore Management and trained by Bret Calhoun, the 5-year-old War Chant gelding scored by 1 1/2 lengths with John Velazquez in the irons. Eugene Melnyk bred the winner, who is out of the Trempolino mare She's Got Class.