07/17/2009 11:00PM

Battle of Hastings up at wire

Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Battle of Hastings (center) gets up in the final head-bob to defeat Straight Story (right) in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby.

Battle of Hastings pinned another agonizing defeat on Straight Story when getting up in the final jumps to post a head triumph Saturday in the at Colonial Downs.

Virtually replicating the results of the June 20 Colonial Cup, Battle of Hastings won a photo over the tough-luck Straight Story, who appeared on his way to victory after pulling clear in midstretch. But Battle of Hastings, ridden by Tyler Baze, launched a furious outside run to barely get up.

Battle of Hastings, a British-bred by Royal Applause, returned $9.20 as second choice after finishing 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.29 over a soft turf course. Take the Points was another three-quarters of a length back, while Lime Rickey was fourth, and Hold Me Back, the 8-5 favorite, was fifth. Nicanor, the morning-line favorite, was scratched Friday, leaving a field of nine 3-year-olds.

Battle of Hastings, based in Southern California for owner Mike House and trainer Jeff Mullins, remains eligible to become the first horse to sweep the Grand Slam of Grass bonus, which is estimated at more than $5 million, including purse winnings. The four-race series encompasses the Colonial Cup, Virginia Derby, Aug. 8 Secretariat at Arlington Park, and the Nov. 7 Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

House said a decision about running in the Secretariat would be made "in a week or two."

Affirmatif set the pace in the 12th running of the annual Colonial showcase in New Kent, Va. Turning for home, Straight Story shot to the front under Chuck Lopez while the others bunched behind him. From that pack, Battle of Hastings emerged the lone threat and he was up in the nick of time.

"He's very honest and he gave me everything when he had to," Baze said. "He's an awesome horse."

In the Colonial Cup, Battle of Hastings went clear in deep stretch before lasting to win by a head over a charging Straight Story. Lime Rickey was third that day, and Take the Points was fourth.

Oaks: Blind Date wins by a head

One race earlier, Blind Date wore down Shared Account in a fierce stretch drive to prevail by a head in the .

Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux was aboard Blind Date for trainer Hamilton Smith and breeder-owner William Backer.

"She's a lovely filly, the best of the line so far," said Backer, who has raced four generations in the winner's female line.

The victory was the fifth in seven career starts for Blind Date, a Not for Love filly who finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.59. She paid $7.20 as a slight favorite in a field of 10 3-year-old fillies.

Shared Account, the 5-2 second choice, made a short lead after overtaking the longshot front-runner, Five Diamonds, and she fought gamely to the wire under Edgar Prado before being out-nodded by the winner.

Katara closed belatedly to be third, another 2 1/4 lengths back.

* Smith, the leading trainer at the current Colonial meet, sent out the one-two finishers in the $50,000 Kitten's Joy when Rockaby Bay led all the way under Desormeaux to defeat stablemate Izzy Speaking by four lengths.

Rockaby Bay, a 6-year-old gelding, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.11 for his eighth victory in 27 career starts. Baltimore Bob was third in a field of 10 older horses.