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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Saratoga’s two-time defending training champion Chad Brown picked up where he left off, saddling Country Grammer to victory in the $100,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G3), the co-feature on Thursday’s opening day card.
Sent from post 2 as the 4/1 third choice under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Country Grammer tucked in and saved ground heading into the clubhouse turn. The rail-breaking Mo Hawk set the early pace while Celtic Striker gave closest chase.
Midway through the far turn, Mo Hawk dropped anchor and left a gap open between himself and the fence. Country Grammer shot through and cut the corner to emerge onto the top of the stretch in contention.
Caracaro, who made a three-wide bid in the turn and got around Celtic Striker, met eyes with Country Grammer and the two battled gamely the length of the stretch.
They made contact at the 1/16 pole, but Country Grammer’s rail-skimming ride left him with enough in the tank to get up by a neck at the wire in a final time of 1:49.79 for the 1 1/8-mile fast main track event.
“He’s a fighter,” said Ortiz, Jr. “He has a great trainer and he had something left at the end. Chad’s horses finish really good. I never gave up and I was lucky he came back.”
Despite getting beat in the late stages, Caracaro was 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Mystic Guide, who rallied from next-to-last for third over Celtic Striker. Modernist, Chestertown, Candy Tycoon, Mo Hawk, and Katzarelli completed the order of finish.
The Peter Pan is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Country Grammer earned 50 points for the win, with Caracaro receiving 20 for second, Mystic Guide 10 for third, and Celtic Striker 5 for fourth.
Country Grammer’s win was his first since breaking his maiden at Aqueduct last November and improved his overall record to 5-2-0-1 with $117,320 earned for owner Paul Pompa, Jr. The 3-year-old Tonalist colt will likely use this race as a springboard to the Travers Stakes (G1), scheduled for August 8 over the local main course.
“Obviously, the logical thing is to point him to the Travers at a mile and 1/4,” Brown said. “I don’t think he’ll have a problem with the distance. We’ll have to see if he’s good enough. He hasn’t run many times and there’s room for improvement there. It’s a race we hoped to get him to and I’ll talk to Mr. Pompa about it.”
Country Grammer returned $10.20 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.10 to show. Caracaro brought back $4.50 to place and $3.10 to show, while Mystic Guide paid $2.80 to show.
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