Pyrus edged Proud Man by a neck Saturday in the grade III $112,100 Fort Marcy Handicap at Aqueduct. Pyrus, ridden by Edgar Prado and carrying 113 pounds, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.53 on the yielding turf course.
Pyrus, a half-brother of French One Thousand Guineas (Fr-I) winner Matiara, set the pace and led the field into the stretch. Favored Sharp Performance moved up on his outside to challenge in the stretch and looked to be taking the lead when jockey John Velazquez pulled him up. Pyrus then held off Proud Man to earn the neck-length victory.
"He got all weird," said Velazquez of Sharp Performance. "I couldn't tell if (the injury) was in front or behind. He was just moving weird. He was acting up, but I couldn't tell where it was.
"I tried to pull him up, and I think I pulled a muscle in my rib cage. I'm tired at the end of a race, and I feel like it's a muscle spasm (in left rib cage)."
NYRA veterinarian Neil Cleary said Sharp Performance appeared to have damaged ligaments in both forelegs.
"I think the right leg was more serious than the left," Cleary said. "It looks like it was a soft tissue and a ligament injury. I didn't feel any fractures. He may have also bled from his lungs. We treated him for pain."
Jubilee Stable and Peter R. Bradley III's Pyrus paid $10.60, 6.20, and $4.30 for his third victory in three starts this year. Proud Man returned $8.50 and $5.40 and completed the $94 exacta. Capsized paid $6.10 to show. Dr. Kashnikow, Strategic Partner, I'm All Yours, Sharp Performance, and Shadow Caster completed the order of finish.
Elliott Walden trains Pyrus, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Mr. Prospector out of the Nureyev mare Most Precious. Orpendale and Michael Tabor bred him. The Fort Marcy marks his first stakes win since taking the Napolina Marble Hill Stakes in his debut race in Ireland. He earned $67,260 for the win his fourth in seven starts.
"I thought it would be a good race today; unfortunately, that horse (Sharp Performance) got hurt. It takes the flavor out of the win," said winning rider Edgar Prado. "The first time I rode Pyrus, he ran like he was a little rank. He settled well today." (Chart, Equibase