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Favored United Too Tough in John Henry
Credit: Ernie Belmonte

Favored United Too Tough in John Henry

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.

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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.

Credit: Ernie Belmonte

“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 PedroOscar DominquezSalvator 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.

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