Thin White Duke heads to the winner’s circle after storming home in the Harvey Pack (Susie Raisher)
96 Beyer for Successful Title Defense in $150K Harvey Pack
NYRA Press Office
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Philip A. Gleaves, Steven Crist, Ken deRegt, and Bryan Hilliards’ New York-bred Thin White Duke came flying from the back of the field in the stretch to win for the first time this year and defend his title in the $150,000 Harvey Pack, a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf sprint for older horses run previously as the Lucky Coin.
Trained by David Donk, Thin White Duke has established himself as a strong closer in turf sprints, but it took eight tries this year to come out on top. Piloted by Jose Lezcano, he was last at top of the lane before tipping widest of all and charging down the center of the course to nail the favored Big Invasion.
“We always encourage his riders to be on the outside and in the clear, it is a very European style,” Donk said. “We did say that to Jose, but he had watched the replays. We also said to just be patient and let him make that one run.”
The Harvey Pack was the 5-year-old’s fourth start at Saratoga this summer, which came on the heels of a rally from ninth to fourth in a strong optional claiming tilt on August 23 after a surge to third in the Grade 3 Troy on August 5, both run at five and a half furlongs.
“I think the course played a bit in favor this week. In a lot of the grass races, you were able to come from off the pace. I thought earlier in the meet, maybe because of the rain, speed wasn’t coming back to him,” said Donk. “He was still making his run, but it wasn’t enough. Yesterday was impressive and by far his best performance of the year.”
The Dominus gelding came away from the victory in good order and his current campaign will continue.
“Whatever races are offered back at Aqueduct, he will get two or three more runs this season, then get put away, and we will try to do the same thing next year,” said Donk.
A return to the Grade 3 Belmont Turf Sprint is possible, as Thin White Duke seeks to add a graded victory to his resume. Last year, he ran fifth in that spot after being restless at the gate.
The Gleaves-bred Thin White Duke is now 29-6-4-7 with $682,605 in earnings. He is out of the Distorted Humor mare Aberdeen Alley, who also produced the Donk-trained Yes and Yes.
Owned by Phil Gleaves, Joseph Straus Jr., and the Estate of Hugh A. Fitzsimons, Jr., the 7-year-old Yes and Yes is a turf sprinter, who will reunite with his half-brother Thin White Duke at Aqueduct this fall. He was second in his last two efforts, the 5 1/2-furlong Select on August 13 at Monmouth Park and Van Clief on July 22 at Colonial Downs.
“He’s funny, he’s a different horse who just doesn’t care for the grass courses at Saratoga,” said Donk. “We elected to ship him out of town this year and he ran really well at Colonial and then at Monmouth and will run next Saturday back at Colonial. Then from there, he will run at Aqueduct.”