ARCADIA, CA – LNJ Foxwoods’ United made good on his 3/5 favoritism, proving much too tough for his rivals in Saturday’s $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Jockey Flavien Prat gave United plenty of encouragement as he broke well from post 3 and held a comfortable lead as the field passed under the wire for the first time.
With no true challenge near him early, United posted fractions of 24.57, 49.07, 1:13.20, and 1:36.46 for the opening mile and straightened for home still with a comfortable advantage.
United responded well when given his cue and had more than enough left to withstand late runs from Originaire and Another Mystery to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
The Richard Mandella trainee completed the 1 1/4-mile firm turf route in 1:59.17.
“I decided if he broke well, I would put him in the race,” Prat said. “On paper, it seemed like there was no speed, so I thought maybe I could try to take the lead. He was traveling well. I loved the way he was galloping and he made a good move as always down the lane.”
Originaire took second by a neck over Another Mystery, himself clear of the rest of the field by at least 2 1/4 lengths.
Proud Pedro, Oscar Dominquez, Salvator Mundi, and Next Shares completed the order of finish.
Kazan was scratched.
United’s win was his fourth of the year and improved his overall record to 16-7-4-1 with $1,413,549 earned. The 5-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding will likely head to Keeneland to improve upon his second-place showing in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
“He just continues to show what a professional he is now,” Mandella said. “He can adapt to certain situations. He is a big, lumbering stride horse and if you get him tied up too much, it’s hard to get him going, so it’s better to keep him in the clear. Flavien did a fabulous job.”
When asked if United was ready to return to the World Championships, Mandella’s razor-sharp wit didn’t disappoint:
“We’re gonna blow their tires off.”
United returned $3.40 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. Originaire brought back $3.60 to place and $2.60 to show, while Another Mystery paid $7 to show.