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BENSALEM, PA – Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Projected, never better than second in four previous American graded stakes races, finally found success when winning Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup Stakes at Laurel Park.
Rated early under rider Nik Juarez, Projected saved ground down low in third while Xmas Sky took a lead by as much as 10 lengths and set early fractions of :23.60, :46.21, and 1:10.33. Xmas Sky saw his lead quickly diminish exiting onto the stretch, however, as Projected forged past with a furlong left and crossed first by 1 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:34.25 for the mile-long turf event.
“I just saw (Xmas Sky) go to the front, and it looked to me that it was a really fast horse and really hard to take back, so I was just letting the speed go on and keep my trip patient,” Juarez said. “When it was time to run, Projected really just kicked on. They just told me to ride the way I’m comfortable and try to save ground and take the shortest way home, and we did just that.”
Projected’s Chad Brown stablemate Catapult was able to get up for second by a nose over Ring Weekend, giving Brown his second consecutive stakes exacta at Laurel Park after Rymska and Taperge did the same in the G3 Commonwealth Oaks.
“Both horses ran a huge race,” said Brown’s assistant, Dermot Magner. “Both riders ran a very intelligent race. One had to win and one had to be second. Nik rode a very clever race. The horse will get a lot of confidence from the win. Fast fractions would obviously suit him pretty well and he finished strong.”
Tower of Texas, Xmas Sky, and Glorious Empire completed the order of finish. Blacktype and Special Ops were scratched.
The career earnings for the winning gelded son of Showcasing now stand at $422,001 with a record of 18-6-7-0. He went unraced in 2016 after competing regularly as a 2- and 3-year-old in Europe.
Projected returned $4.40 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Catapult brought back $3.20 to place and $2.40 to show, while Ring Weekend paid $2.60 to show.
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