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The Racing Dudes team recaps Abaan stalking from off the pace and running away to an impressive victory in Saturday’s W. L. McKnight Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park, then discuss who they like moving forward, including any potential longshots.
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The track press release:
Heavy favorite Abaan rolled to a 2½ length victory Saturday in the $200,000 W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3) to extend his win streak to three races.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher won the W.L. McKnight for the fourth time.
Abaan, owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Alex Daigneault, was sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the field of 12 after his easy gate-to-wire victory in the 2-mile H. Allen Jerkens on Dec. 26. Under leading rider Luis Saez, Abaan pressed the pace set by King Cause through early fractions of 25.39 seconds, 50.38, 1:15.43. The 5-year-old son of Will Take Charge seized the lead in the third and final turn of the 1½ miles turf race and had no challengers in the stretch and paid $5.00.
Temple was second in the McKnight for the second-straight year. Media Blitz was third.
$200,000 W.L. McKnight (G3) Quotes
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher (Abaan): “We anticipated that he wouldn’t be on the lead today, and we felt like he could be effective without having it. It was nice to see him prove that. I think it opens up a lot of options for him in terms of the way he needs to be ridden.”
“He went to the far turn and he was pretty authoritative when he took the lead and spread the race open right there. It looked like he finished with good energy.”
“There’s a lot of options. He’s been invited to Saudi for the long race there. We nominated to Dubai. We’ll see how he comes out of it and I’ll talk to [the owners] and we’ll come up with a game plan. He’s doing so well here at Gulfstream, there’s another option or two here. There are some big prizes we’ll have to take a look at.”
Winning jockey Luis Saez (Abaan): “We tried to break from there and see if someone took the lead, we could be in the perfect spot. Everything worked out pretty great, like the plan. When we came to the top of the stretch, he just took off.”
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