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BALTIMORE, MD – Red Oak Stable’s homebred King for a Day fired a huge effort off of the bench, attending a hot early pace before powering home strongly to be crowned champion of Saturday’s $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Bumped as he broke from post 3 under John Velazquez as the prohibitive 2/5 favorite, King for a Day settled along the outside of early pacesetter Trifor Gold through opening fractions of :23.50 and :46.76. Advancing steadily past the leader in the far turn, King for a Day turned for home with a growing lead and kicked away. Kept to a mild drive, the Todd Pletcher trainee crossed with a 2 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:41.40 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“The horse right next to me broke awkwardly and actually kind of broke into my horse’s hind end,” Velazquez said. “But once we got into the first turn, I was comfortable with where I was, and from there, it was pretty easy. I knew it was going to be close; I didn’t know he would be on the lead because I expected the horse next to me to be on the lead. But I wanted to make sure I got into position going into the first turn to where he was comfortable, and that’s where he ended up.”
Tone Broke made a bid off the far turn but couldn’t sustain it and flattened out, ultimately taking second by 4 1/4 lenths over V. I. P. Ticket. Trifor Gold retreated steadily in the stretch and could not hold off V. I. P. Ticket’s late run, finishing fourth ahead of only Top Line Growth, who loomed threateningly in the far turn but faltered and fell off in the stretch to complete the order of finish.
Pretty Good Year was a trainer scratch.
King for a Day’s win was his first since breaking his maiden at Belmont Park on October 4 and improved his overall record to 4-2-0-1 with $120,550 earned. The 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo was last seen finishing fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) last November but missed several months of training in order to aid his development. The decision is already starting to pay dividends.
“He’s a horse we’ve always had very high hopes for,” Pletcher said. “He got a little behind schedule to make any of the Triple Crown races, but the owners are very patient, just wanted to give him every chance to meet his expectations, so we gave him a bit of a break this winter. He’s come back, he’s trained well. We were actually looking at an allowance race; it didn’t go. So this turned out to be a good spot.”
King for a Day returned $2.80 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. Tone Broke brought back $3.40 to place and $2.80 to show, while V. I. P. Ticket paid $3.40 to show.
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