Spirit Prince breaks his maiden in the Central Park (Chelsea Durand)
By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Oakwood Stables, Scott D. Krase, Donarra Thoroughbreds, Kenneth G. Beitz and Gail P. Beitz’s Spirit Prince earned his first career victory in Sunday’s $120,000 Central Park, a one-mile inner turf test for juveniles, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Christophe Clement, the Cairo Prince gray has kept good company despite lacking a previous trip to the winner’s circle, earning graded black type when third in both the Grade 3 With Anticipation in August at Saratoga Race Course and the Grade 2 Pilgrim in October at Belmont at the Big A. He improved from a last-out second to Move to Gold in the 1 1/16-mile Awad on October 28 here.
“He never missed a beat,” said Clement. “He’s run in every single stakes since the With Anticipation in New York and he’s been running well, so why not?”
Guided to victory by Joel Rosario, Spirit Prince broke sharply from post 8 and was involved in a scramble for the lead before ultimately relinquishing command to longshot pacesetters Ruddy Buddy and Day Away as they marked the opening quarter-mile in 24.14 seconds over the firm footing.
The field remained tightly bunched down the backstretch as Spirit Prince was positioned in between the pair of pacesetters a close third after the half-mile in 49.32 with Frontline Warrior beginning to inch closer from fourth. Rounding the turn, Rosario angled his mount three-wide in pursuit of the top flight and came within striking distance with three-quarters elapsed in 1:13.62.
Spirit Prince came to even terms with his frontrunning rivals at the top of the lane and was roused for more by Rosario, but reacted greenly and angled in sharply towards a retreating Day Away, who steadied and faded to the back of the field. Meanwhile, Spirit Prince was swiftly straightened by Rosario and drew off strongly down the lane to put away Ruddy Buddy, but was left to deal with strong rallies from Walley World and Typhoon Fury behind him. Despite the oncoming threats, Spirit Prince had enough left late to cross the wire 1 1/2 lengths in front in a final time of 1:37.69.
Walley World nabbed place honors by a head over Typhoon Fury, who was three-quarter lengths better than fourth-place Frontline Warrior. Sanderson, Wine Collector, Buffoon, Quokka, Ruddy Buddy, Blue Creek, Uncle Truly and Day Away completed the order of finish. Works for Me, who won yesterday’s $100,000 Notebook here, and main track-only entrant Pandagate were scratched. Buffoon was pulled up in the gallop out by Dylan Davis and was vanned off.
Rosario said he was content to let the pacesetters take command.
“It looked like they were going to go [to the lead] for a little bit, but they kept moving inside and after going into the turn they kind of backed up again a little bit,” said Rosario. “I found myself in between horses and did it well. It helped when in the last turn they went a little out of the way so I could find my spot better. He did the work after that. He’s a nice galloper and easy to ride, you can do whatever you want with him.
“He likes to play with his head a little bit and he lugged in a little, but he was very focused after I got him straight,” added Rosario about Spirit Prince’s mid-stretch drifting.
Bred in Kentucky by Ben and Rebekah Henley and Jim Gray, Spirit Prince was a $110,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is from the family of dual Grade 1-winner November Snow. He banked $66,000 in victory, boosting his total purse earnings to $153,000 while returning $7.60 on a $2 win bet as the 5-2 mutuel favorite.
Manny Franco, aboard the Chad Brown-trained runner-up Walley World, said the shuffling in the stretch hindered him.
“I had a decent trip, but at the three-eighths pole I was in between horses. I got a little bit checked,” Franco said. “Not sure if I would have won, but it cost me a little.”
Live racing resumes Friday at the Big A with nine-race card, featuring the Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight in Race 3. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.