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BALTIMORE, MD – Calumet Farm’s homebred English Bee outdueled a very tough Real News after a lengthy stretch battle to win Saturday’s $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Breaking well from post 4 under Jose Ortiz at 9/2 odds, English Bee was able to clear his inside foes and crossed over to the rail, saving ground in stalking position as the field made the clubhouse turn. Up front, the 2/1 co-favorite Real News had Thomas Shelby along his right hip as he posted opening fractions of :24.65, :48.70, and 1:12.24.
Midway through the far turn, Ortiz tipped English Bee out to run three-wide, and at the top of the stretch, he was in the clear and took dead aim at the pacesetter. The two met eye to eye and kicked away from the rest of the field. Real News fought valiantly along the inside, but in the shadow of the wire, English Bee surged ahead just enough for the win. The Graham Motion trainee crossed with a head advantage in a final time of 1:35.60 for the mile-long event over the firm turf course.
“He broke really well,” Ortiz said. “He was up front in the race. For a 3-year-old lightly-raced in the game, he’s very professional. He put me into a great spot, and when I asked him to go, to push at the 3/8 pole, and then he ran very well. He’s certainly moving forward. He’s a big, strong colt.”
Shootin the Breeze made a late bid down the middle of the lane to take third over the other co-favorite Current, making his return to turf after finishing fifth in the Florida Derby (G1). Much farther back came War Film in fifth, with Gearhead, Tybalt, and a spent Thomas Shelby completing the order of finish.
Empire of War and Eons were both trainer scratches.
English Bee’s win was his first in a stakes race and improved his overall record to 6-3-1-1 with $ earned. The 3-year-old son of the Calumet stallion English Channel, out of a Kitten’s Joy mare, was a close fifth last time out in the $75,000 Columbia Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
“I think he was really unlucky in his last race at Tampa,” Motion said. “He kind of got stopped coming off the turn right when he went to make his move. We all decided to wait for this race. He’s a real pro. He hasn’t done anything wrong. Glad to start off with a win. I haven’t looked much beyond this race, but I think distance won’t be a problem.”
English Bee returned $11.40 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.60 to show. Real News brought back $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show, while Shootin the Breeze paid $4.20 to show.
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