NEW CUMBERLAND, WV – A pair of tough stakes-winning foes hooked up for a thrilling stretch duel that saw Silver Dust narrowly defeat Kukulkan in Saturday’s $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Cup Stakes (G3) at Mountaineer.
Breaking from post 6 under Jack Gilligan as the 7/2 second choice, Silver Dust raced within striking distance in third while Exclamation Point led, with the 3/1 favorite Kukulkan closely attending him. After following through opening fractions of :24.54 and :48.82, Kukulkan drove forward for the lead.
Silver Dust ranged up in the far turn and hooked up along the outside of Kukulkan as they straightened for home. During the stretch duel, Kukulkan angled out briefly near the 1/16 pole and brushed with Silver Dust, but the big gray horse had too much power to be stopped.
Bearing down late, Silver Dust crossed with a 1/2-length advantage for the win. The Bret Calhoun trainee’s final time came in 1:43.85 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
Following the race, Kukulkan’s jockey Corey Lanerie lodged an objection against Gilligan, alleging interference in the stretch, but the stewards dismissed his objection.
Snapper Sinclair surged in the stretch but hung as he neared the top pair and had to settle for third, missing second by 3/4 of a length. Exulting was 4 lengths behind him in fourth while a 1/2-length ahead of Sir Anthony. Behind them came Reride, Retirement Fund, Hawaakom, and Sky Promise to complete the order of finish. Rocking the Boat and Imperative (who competed in the Whitney Stakes [G1] at Saratoga instead) were both scratched.
Silver Dust’s win was his second of the year, having won the Mineshaft Handicap (G3) at Fair Grounds in February. The 5-year-old gelded son of Tapit improved his record to 23-5-6-2 with $594,777 earned for owner Tom Durant.
Silver Dust returned $9.20 to win, $4.20 to place, and $3 to show. Kukulkan brought back $5 to place and $3.60 to show, while Snapper Sinclair paid $4.40 to show.