Hap surged past Where's Taylor in the stretch to win Sunday's $500,000 Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile Stakes (gr. IIT). Under a well-timed ride from Jerry Bailey, the Bill Mott-trained son of Theatrical completed the mile in 1:35.98 on firm turf.
North East Bound set the early pace under pressure from Where's Taylor as Hap raced in the third flight early on between Brahms and Mr. Livingston. Heading into the second turn, Brahms began to rally along the inside but was forced to take up on the turn as North East Bound tired. By the time Gary Stevens moved the Brahms into the clear, Hap was several lengths ahead and about to challenge Where's Taylor for the lead. Hap ran alongside Where's Taylor with Aly's Alley making a modest challenge between them, then pulled clear to the 1 1/2-length victory over Where's Taylor.
"I was a little worried going a mile today because of all the traffic I thought we'd have to go through, but he was forwardly placed and we had a great trip so it didn't matter," said Bailey.
The traffic problems were for Stevens and Brahms to handle.
"He (Brahms) was loaded for bear," said Stevens. "Jerry (Bailey aboard Hap) had me (blocked) all the way and if I get through, it was going to be a horse race."
Aly's Alley finished a head behind Where's Taylor, with Brahms three-quarters of a length farther back. Quiet Resolve finished fifth, followed by Penny's Gold, Cayman Sunset, North East Bound, and Mr. Livingston.
Sent off as the 8-5 favorite, Hap returned $5.20, $4, and $3.40. Where's Taylor paid $13.80 and $6.20 and completed a $67.40 exacta. Aly's Alley returned $4.80 to show.
The win marks the fourth graded stakes win on the year for Hap and his 10th career win from 16 starts. Prior to Sunday's race, Hap finished second in the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million (gr. IT) after winning three straight 1 1/8-mile graded turf events. As a 4-year-old last year, Hap won a pair of graded turf stakes at Saratoga before completing his season with a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Hap is owned by the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust and was bred by the late Paulson. (Chart, Equibase