ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – Amerman Racing’s Oscar Performance asserted himself as the nation’s top 3-year-old on any surface after blowing down the stretch to capture the Grade 1, $400,000 Secretariat.
The Secretariat became Oscar Performance’s third straight graded stakes win after previously taking the Grade 1 Belmont Derby and the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge (where he defeated the eventual Grade 2 Jim Dandy winner, Good Samaritan), but it was the first that the Brian Lynch-trained ridgling won after not leading throughout.
“He was sitting very comfortably in second, and when I asked him to go, he ran very well,” said winning rider Jose Ortiz. “I love that Brian gave me the opportunity on this horse. I’m very happy I won the race for them (Lynch and Amerman).”
After closely tracking the early leader Sonic Boom through fractions of :24.77, :49.51, 1:13.83, and 1:38.03, Oscar Performance made his move for the lead at the 1/4-pole and kicked clear to cross the 1 1/4-mile race in a final time of 2:01.79.
“You’re never confident until the finish line, but they were very good horses, and we’re delighted Jose could ride so well and beat them,” said winning owner John Amerman. “He knows the horse and has ridden him ever since his first race.”
European invaders Taj Mahal and Afandem finished second and third, respectively, with Sonic Boom, Gorgeous Kitten, and Permian completing the order of finish.
The win was Oscar Performance’s third straight after beginning 2017 with a pair of duds in the Grade 2 American Turf and the Grade 3 Transylvania. He had previously capped off his 2-year-old season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Oscar Performance returned $5 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.40 to show. Taj Mahal brought back $6 to place and $4 to show, while Afandem paid $3.20 to show.