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BALTIMORE, MD – The King Cheek, stretching out around two turns for the first time, dueled the length of the stretch with favorite Hozier before edging away approaching the wire to win the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes by a head Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.
“I was reading the form and when I saw there wasn’t much speed in the race, I told the boss, ‘If he puts us in a good position I’m just going to let him go.’ He was so comfortable on the backside and I feel like I had enough horse. He was trying to get out a little bit on the first turn but once the other horse came close to him my horse just picked up again and from that until then he just kept battling from head to head with the other one.” Said winning jockey Jaime Rodriguez after the race.
Favorite Hozier, Romp, and Golden Gulley completed the order. Dream Big Dreams was the lone scratch from the Sir Barton.
Winning trainer Jamie Ness: “This was kind of a last-second entry. It was kind of a short field. They [the racing office] called me. I said he’s doing great. Put him in. Take a shot. He just ran 10 days ago. They called me and said ‘You got any 3-year-olds that are doing good?’ I said, “Yeah. For what?’ They said, ‘The Sir Barton,’ and I said, ‘All right, let’s go.’ I ran him back-to-back in 10 days.”
“You know what’s funny? We dropped a claim on this horse ($25,000 on Sept. 30 at Delaware Park). It was a five-way shake, and he ran terrible. I was with my owner, and I go, ‘Go lose the shake.’ And then he comes out with the slip, and I go, ‘Awww.’ And now here we are. So you just never know. I’ve claimed a lot of horses and you just never know.”
This is the first stakes win The King Cheek. The 3-year-old son of Laoban improved his record to 9-4-2-0 and has earned $132,575 for Morris E. Kernan Jr. and Jagger Inc.
The King Cheek returned $10.40 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.40 to show.
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