Dismissed at 13-1 odds, Bandbox completed an outstanding outside rally from off the pace when easily wresting the lead from runner-up Tenango with less than a three-sixteenths run and scooting to a four-length triumph under urging from Xavier Perez. The victory, his second start off a long layoff, marked his first in a graded stakes.
The 6-year-old is by Gainesway sire Tapit, who had another graded stakes winner Feb. 17 when classics hopeful Tapiture won the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park in his 2014 debut.
With pacesetter Smash and Grab running out of steam in the stretch in the General George, Tenango launched a strong bid five-wide off the turn and bid for command between horses, but the winner was too strong.
"(Trainer Rodney Jenkins) told me this race could set up really well for us today and it turned out just like that," Perez said. "He (Bandbox) broke really well and I just kept him comfortable and kept him behind everyone as long as I could. I had so much horse underneath of me. When we got near the top of the stretch I swung him to the outside and he just dragged me to the front."
Service for Ten finished third, a half-length behind Tenango, in trying for a last-to-first rally. Palace, the even-money favorite, stalked the early pace from third and fourth but tired in mid-stretch and finished fourth.
After breaking from the seven hole in the eight-horse field, Bandbox was sixth with a quarter-mile left but responded willingly when set down for the drive. He was timed in 1:24.13 for seven furlongs on a fast track, improving his career line to 5-4-1 from 14 starts and $390,345 in earnings.
The gray/roan horse halted a six-race winless drought dating from his victory as a 3-year-old in the 2011 Private Terms Stakes at Laurel. He was a two-time stakes winner at age 2, winning the 2011 Charles Town Juvenile and the Sleepy Hollow Stakes for New York-breds.
Bandbox missed all of 2013 amidst 1 1/2 years on the sidelines. He went winless in 2012, though posting three runner-up finishes, including in the Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Laurel. His comeback Jan. 30 at the track was a third-place finish in optional claiming company.
"This horse has had problems all of his life," Jenkins said. "He has run up on other horses and almost always had troubled trips and physical problems, like chipping his sesamoid and having suspensory problems, but the horse came into the race beautifully.
"I have always dreamed of winning this race and today our dream came true. We don't really have a plan for him after this race because our goal was to get the job done today."
Bandbox paid $28.20, $12.40, and $9.20 while keying a $160.40 exacta with Tenango, who returned $8.80 and $5.80. Service for Ten paid $3.60.
Javerre, based at Parx Racing, was denied a bid for a repeat win in the race when he was scratched. The Philadelphia track is under quarantine due to a suspected case of equine herpes.
Bandbox, who is owned by Hillwood Stable, paid $28.20, $12.40, and $9.20 while keying a $160.40 exacta with Tenango, who returned $8.80 and $5.80. Service for Ten paid $3.60.
Bandbox was bred by New Dawn Thoroughbreds and Aron Yagoda out of the unraced Grand Slam mare Empty the Bases. Hillwood Stable purchased him for $105,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale. Peacock Ridge consigned as agent.