BOWLING GREEN HANDICAP | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 1/4 MILES (INNER TURF)
Hyper had his consistency rewarded with his first graded stakes victory in the $250,000 Bowling Green Handicap on the inner turf at Belmont Park Sept. 7 as odds-on favorite Boisterous fizzled in the stretch.
The 6-year-old son of Victory Gallop became a rare Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred not sired by their stallion Kitten's Joy to win a graded event on turf. Hyper, who took the lead for Javier Castellano in the stretch from pacesetter Quick Casablanca, got first run on Finnegans Wake and held that one off by half a length. The final time for for 1 ¼-mile test was 2:01.37 over firm going.
Boisterous, after a ground-saving trip into the stretch as the 3-5 choice in the field of six, was checked hard near the quarter pole before angled out in the drive by John Velazquez. He had to wait for Finnegans Wake to clear before finding room and had little response while running on late for third.
It was a second successive dull effort for the recent Man o' War winner following an eighth-place showing in the Sword Dancer Invitational as the favorite Aug. 17 at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Chad Brown, Hyper came into the Bowling Green in good form and was sent off at odds of 5-2. The bay won the restricted John's Call Stakes at Saratoga in his previous start July 31. That followed a close second to 50-1 London Lane in the Colonial Turf Cup June 22 at Colonial Downs, which was Hyper's graded stakes debut.
Bred in Kentucky out of the Nureyev mare Raw Nerve, Hyper had been beating up on lower ranks for some time. He won for the 10th time in a 21-race career that includes five seconds and two thirds.
"Chad has had him for so long, and he's always been a nice horse to train," said Cherie DeVaux, assistant to Brown. "He always tries really hard, he always looks great. With age, he has been getting better. What's so enjoyable about watching him run is that he seems to get better every time. He always finds a way to find a little more, and as he's gotten older he keeps finding ways to step up."
In a race that lacked a clear pacesetter, Quick Casablanca took the lead soon after the start while slowing the tempo. London Lane and Farhaan followed, with Boisterous, at the rail, and Hyper stalking. Finnegans Wake, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, trailed in a compact group. Fractions were :24.30, :48.94, and 1:12.85.
"My horse didn't break too sharp today, for whatever reason," Castellano said. "My goal in my mind was to keep him relaxed the first part of the race and then find the kick."
Quick Casablanca reached the quarter pole still in front after completing a mile in 1:37.19. But Hyper, four wide off the final bend, took control in the lane. He opened up a one-length lead and dug in for the final furlong as Finnegans Wake made a sustained bid only to run out of the time.
"When Boisterous and my horse made their moves at the same time, at the quarter-pole, Johnny [Velazquez] didn't have a choice, he had to go inside," Castellano said. "I had a choice, to go around horses. [Hyper] took off and did it the right way. He hung a little bit but when he saw the other horse come on the outside, he came on again."
Boisterous, the 122-pound highweight, was two lengths father back in third, with Quick Casablnca, London Lane, and Farhaan following.
Under 117 pounds, Hyper extended his career earnings to $554,700 while returning $7.90, $4.20, and $2.30 as the second choice.
Donegal Racing's Finnegans Wake, who was attempting to snap an eight-race losing streak for trainer Dale Romans with a slight drop out of Grade 1 competition, paid $5.20 and $2.60. The exacta was worth $42.40.
Phipps Stable's Boisterous, a six-time winner on the Belmont turf for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, was $2.10 to show.