11/04/2010 5:35PM

Battle of Hastings wins in debut for new trainer

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Battle of Hastings, with Joel Rosario aboard, surged to victory Thursday when making his first start for trainer Greg Fox in the 33rd running of the Grade 3, $111,200 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Tucked in behind the early leaders for much of the 1 1/8-mile journey over a firm turf course, Battle of Hastings wheeled out for the drive and proved clearly best, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over Midnight Mischief. Boots Ahead was another half-length back in third, while Rahystrada, the defending champion and 8-5 favorite, had no real mishap when finishing fifth in a field of eight older horses.

Battle of Hastings was winning for the first time since he captured the Virginia Derby in June 2009, snapping a 10-race losing streak. He returned $5.80 as second choice after finishing in 1:48.90 as the 121-pound highweight.

“The horse ran a beautiful race, and Joel gave him a beautiful ride,” said Fox, the Lexington-based trainer who assumed the care of Battle of Hastings shortly after the gelding finished fourth in the Aug. 28 Pacific Classic. “I’m thrilled, absolutely.”

Easily the leading earner going into the race, Battle of Hastings earned another $66,876 to lift his career bankroll to $1,344,216. The 4-year-old British-bred gelding is owned by Michael House.