10/06/2012 7:49PM

Belmont Park: King David claims Jamaica Handicap as his

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Barbara D. Livingston
King David, with Rosie Napravnik riding, wins the Jamaica at 28-1.

ELMONT, N.Y. - King David went from a popular commodity at the claim box to an unlikely Grade 1 winner at Belmont Park Saturday, upsetting the $400,00 Jamaica Handicap by a half-length at odds of 28-1.King Kreesa, a 23-1 longshot who set the pace under Eddie Castro, finished second by three-quarters of a length over an unlucky Summer Front, who got stopped trying to rally along the rail under Ramon Dominguez.

Cogito was fourth followed by Dullahan, the 8-5 favorite, Shkspeare Shaliyah and Howe Great. Unbridled Command scratched.

Rosie Napravnik, who left New York for Kentucky this week because she felt there wasn't enough business for her here, rode the winner, her second consecutive Grade 1 victory on the card. One race earlier, she won the Grade 1 Champagne aboard Shanghai Bobby.

King David, a son of Hat Trick, was making his first start since being claimed for $35,000 by trainer Mike Maker on behalf of Scarlet Stable. Maker had tried to claim the horse for $25,000 in August at Saratoga, but lost a shake to Nick Canani.

"Mike saw this horse at Saratoga and lost a shake there, so he claimed him at Belmont," said Pearl Hagadorn, Maker's assistant who saddled the horse. "He looks for an athlete that he thinks can improve with his program, and he's brilliant at it."

Napravnik said the same thing, noting that she told Dominguez on a Friday night flight from Kentucky to New York that Maker "is very good at turning horses around and doing a great job with them, especially on the turf. Mike is a guy I ride with a lot of confidence for."

Napravnik had King David in third position while King Kreesa, a New York-bred who emerged from the claiming ranks to be a minor stakes winner, set fractions of 25.89 seconds for the quarter, 52.29 for the half and 1:18.15 for six furlongs over an inner turf course labeled good.

King David rallied three wide in the stretch while Summer Front, who was inside and fourth under Dominguez, was trying to find room along the rail.

There appeared to be a seam in midstretch but at the sixteenth pole, the hole closed and Dominguez had to steady on Summer Front.
"There was enough room, by the time I got there Eddie [Castro] realized I was coming through and he closed it and stopped all my chances," Dominguez said.

King David, meanwhile, had an unimpeded path to the lead and edged clear in deep stretch.

"This was a horse I'd been on and I liked even before Mike claimed him," said Napravnik, who had breezed the horse in the morning but had never ridden him in a race. "I always loved the way he went. He's got a really great demeanor and just tried as much as he could."

King David covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.91 and returned $58 to win. The all-King exacta returned $370.

Dullahan, who remains winless on turf, had never before raced on less than firm ground and didn't appear to care for it Saturday.

"When I took him outside going past the 3 1-2 [furlong marker] to let him get a little closer and let him pick it up, it felt to me like every time he went hard to the ground he was slipping a little bit," jockey Joel Rosario said. "I don't think that was the best ground for him."