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ELMONT, NY – Locally Owned, sent to post at 18/1 under Dylan Davis, upset 1/9 mutuel favorite Lone Rock in Saturday’s $300,000 Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational at Belmont Park.
The 2nd running of the 1 5/8-mile endurance test on Big Sandy for older horses kicked off a stakes-laden card which includes the concluding legs of the Turf Triple series with the $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational for sophomore fillies slated for race 9 and the $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational for sophomores set for race 10.
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Owned by Jason Provenzano’s Flying P Stable, Locally Owned settled at the back of the compact field of five as Mo Gotcha led through splits of 25.35 seconds, 50.54 and 1:17.20 on the fast main track with Lone Rock stalking to the outside in second position.
Mo Gotcha led the closely-bunched pack into the final turn with Empty Tomb angling outside of Lone Rock while Davis sent Locally Owned through at the rail with a menacing move, rallying inside of Chris and Dave and the pacesetter to take command at the top of the lane.
Ramon Vazquez, aboard Lone Rock, provided right-handed encouragement but the bay could not reel in Locally Owned, who secured the 1-length win in a final time of 2:44.60.
Lone Rock completed the exacta by 2 3/4 lengths over Mo Gotcha, with Chris and Dave and Empty Tomb rounding out the order of finish. Moretti was scratched.
Davis said rallying inside through the final turn allowed Locally Owned to take control of the race.
“I took that position because I didn’t want Lone Rock to get the jump early before I did,” Davis said. “I took the initiative, and he took control. He really finished strong at the wire. He really wanted to be there first.”
Locally Owned, who finished seventh in the Tenacious in December at Fair Grounds for his former conditioner Al Stall Jr., was making just his second stakes appearance.
Morley claimed Locally Owned for $40,000 in February at the Fair Grounds and the 5-year-old Distorted Humor gelding won at first asking for new connections in April while making his Belmont debut traveling 1 1/16 miles in an optional-claiming event.
A runner-up performance in a 9-furlong off-the-turf optional-claiming event on July 25 at Saratoga Race Course was followed by an off-the-board effort traveling 1 1/8 miles on September 5 at the Spa.
Morley and Provenzano teamed up with another $40,000 claim at the Fair Grounds – Tell Your Daddy – to win the Bernard Baruch (G2) in September at Saratoga.
“Dylan rode the perfect race. He saved every inch of ground here,” Provenzano said. “It’s amazing that this horse, another claim, comes back and wins a race like this. This is what I dream of and it’s all unfolding finally.”
Lone Rock, owned by Flying P Stable in partnership with R.A. Hill Stable, made his 4 four starts in stakes company, winning the Marathon Overnight in April at Churchill Downs, the Brooklyn (G2) presented by Northwell Health on Belmont Stakes Day in June, and the 1 3/4-mile Birdstone on August 5 at Saratoga.
Provenzano said that Lone Rock lacking his usual kick could be attributed to a difficult campaign.
“It’s bittersweet. The Rock is the Rock. He won my first graded stakes here on Belmont Day which is something I’ll never forget,” Provenzano said. “Then, we won a stake at Saratoga and it’s difficult to win up there in general, let alone a stake.
“We piled it on. This is what happens sometimes,” he added. “He didn’t run a bad race, but at 1/9, he’s supposed to beat up on them.”
The 6-year-old Majestic Warrior gelding had won 7 of his 8 previous starts, dating to a 3/40length score in October at Keeneland when he was claimed off Diodoro by Hall of Famer Bill Mott for $40,000. Diodoro promptly claimed back the talented bay for the same price in November at Churchill.
Vazquez said Lone Rock failed to fire when asked.
“I had a good trip. I don’t know what happened, but he didn’t respond to me today like he usually does. He never picked up the bridle,” Vazquez said.
Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Locally Owned banked $165,000 in victory while improving his record to 24-5-5-5. He returned $39 for a $2 win bet.
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