Favored Pleasant Prince closed with a burst to snatch victory from Worldly by a nose at the wire of the $100,000 Ohio Derby (gr. III) at Thistledown July 31.
Pleasant Prince, trained by Wesley Ward for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is expected to advance to Saratoga's Travers Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 28 after registering his first stakes win in the Ohio Derby. The 3-year-old son of Indy King--Archduchess, by Pleasant Tap, used a similar late flurry only to lose the Florida Derby (gr. I) to Ice Box by a nose at 29-1 odds March 20.
With Alex Solis aboard for the first time, Pleasant Prince was racing mid-pack after advancing steadily into the stretch. The 9-5 choice closed strongly between rivals in the final sixteenth to nip an unlucky Worldly. The final time for the Ohio Derby, which was shortened from nine furlongs to 1 1/16 miles this year, was 1:43.90. Ten sophomores competed.
"It was a great race," Ward by phone after watching the race on television from Saratoga where he has a large stable of Ramsey's horses. "I was so glad to have Solis on my horse. He's been in so many battles. He's a true warrior."
Solis was deputizing for Pleasant Prince's regular rider, Julien Leparoux who had a full schedule of mounts at Saratoga.
"I had been riding a lot of horses for Wesley at Saratoga and he gave me this mount," said Solis. "I know the finish was close but my horse was running hard. I knew closers were running well today so I wanted to keep my horse not too far back."
Worldly, ridden by Luis Gonzalez, was hung out five wide on the first turn. He overcame a wide trip to make the lead in deep stretch and just missed. Capitol Appeal, who battled pacesetter Mykindacandy to the eighth pole, finished three-quarters of length farther back in third, with the weakening Mykindacandy fourth.
"My horse took the lead briefly," said Gonzalez of Worldly. "I was tiring and I thought I might be done, but when (Pleasant Prince) came to us, he picked it up again and was unlucky not to win the photo."
Slewzoom who finished fifth, led the first quarter-mile in :24 flat before Mykindacandy took a head advantage at the half-mile point in :48.16. Mykindacandy led by one length over Capitol Appeal after six furlongs in 1:12.64.
Max Silverhammer, Dixie Band, Scottkeith'skitten, Broke by Noon and Chocho Jr. completed the order.
In winning the Ohio Derby, Pleasant Prince rebounded from an 11th-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in his most recent start May 15 at Pimlico. Pleasant Prince was returned to Ward's Keeneland barn to regroup and he turned in a series of solid works, including a bullet :47 2/5 for four furlongs July 10. Ward shipped Pleasant Prince to Thistledown for a quick :58 2/5 breeze over five furlongs July 24.
Adena Springs bred the winning chestnut colt in Kentucky. Pleasant Prince won for the second time in 11 lifetime starts and boosted his earnings to $284,398. He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs at one mile Nov. 22, but had lost seven straight.
Pleasant Prince paid $5.60, $3 and $2.40 and keyed a $23.20 exacta. Jay Em Ess Stable's Worldly, who lost the Northern Dancer Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill by a neck in his last race June 12 for trainer Paul McGee, returned $4.80 and $3.60. Capitol Appeal, ridden by Ron Allen Jr., was $7.20 to show.
The 76th Ohio Derby was reduced from a grade II this year and its purse was dropped from $150,000.