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Hunter O’Riley Finally Finds Victory in United Nations

Hunter O’Riley Finally Finds Victory in United Nations

OCEANPORT, NJ – Sean Shay and Michael Ryan’s Hunter O’Riley stored up his energy for much of the race, then exploded with a devastating turn of foot to get up just in time and win Saturday’s $300,000 United Nations Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park.

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Breaking from post 7 under Paco Lopez at 14/1 odds, Hunter O’Riley took back while Arrocha set opening fractions of :25.29, :50.36, 1:16.19, and 1:41.46. Given his cue as Lopez tipped him out to run three-wide in the far turn, Hunter O’Riley began charging to the front, where Zulu Alpha had assumed the lead.

Continuing to run strongly down the middle of the lane, Hunter O’Riley collared Zulu Alpha inside the 1/16 pole, then inched ahead in the shadow of the wire for the victory. The Jimmy Toner trainee crossed with a neck advantage in a final time of 2:17.10 for the 1 3/8-mile event over the good turf course.

“Jimmy Toner told whatever you want to do go do, just don’t stay on the rail and don’t stay inside,” Lopez said. “He said stay outside. I was worried a little bit about the slow fractions, but my horse in the first turn was very comfortable. Jimmy asked me to rate him and keep him in a good position. At a 1/2 mile, I started to get him outside, and then when I asked him to run, he really gave me what he has. I had good position the whole way. I liked where I was. He fired a little slowly, but then he got rolling.”

Despite getting caught late, Zulu Alpha fought gamely along the rail and held second by a 1/2-length over the 9/5 favorite Channel Cat. Behind them came Bigger Picture, Focus Group, a tired Arrocha, Monarchs Glen, and Catcho En Die to complete the order of finish.

Hunter O’Riley’s win was his first since taking the 2017 edition of the Bowling Green Stakes (G2) at Saratoga and improved his overall record to 22-5-2-4. The 6-year-old gelded son of Tiz Wonderful, purchased for $50,000 as a juvenile, has now earned $620,293.

“A super ride by Paco,” said Toner. “He kept him there. This horse has a tendency to take himself out of races. Paco saved ground all the way and he was with the field, and then when he hit the turn and tipped out – I thought he might have tipped out a little too far – but once he tipped out, he made a good run the last part of it. He rode a tremendous race on him.”

Hunter O’Riley returned $30.20 to win, $12.60 to place, and $7.60 to show. Zulu Alpha brought back $8.40 to place and $5 to show, while Channel Cat paid $3 to show.

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