06/11/2017 8:24AM

Evader keeps early lead to win Herb Hoover Stakes

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Evader took command of the rail early and traveled the shortest path to the winner’s circle Saturday in the $85,250 Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association Stallion Season Herb Hoover Memorial Stakes at Indiana Grand.

The Star Cat gelding was the 8-5 favorite among a field of 10 Indiana-bred sophomore colts and geldings by sires whose connections donated to the state breed organization’s stallion season auction. He broke sharply from the second gate to quickly assume control of the inside path.

The gelding was part of a tightly bunched group headed into the first turn that also included Sung, Lizzy’s Lure, and Octavian Rush. Evader and Sung shook the rest of the field through the bend into an opening quarter in 23.98.

Those two kept a 1 1/2-length cushion between Lizzy’s Lure in third, but Evader gradually inched away from Sung as the two ran across the back straightaway, and he was clear by 1 1/2 lengths when he passed the halfway point in 47.16. Sung began to fold, as Octavian Rush gained ground up the rail and Lizzy’s Lure passed on the outside.

Lizzy’s Lure challenged Evader on the outside as they hit the quarter pole in 1:12.07, but his bid fell flat as they straightened out for the stretch run, and Evader found another gear under jockey Marcelino Pedroza, who urged his mount with a right-handed whip, then switched to the left inside the final eighth of a mile.

Evader continued to draw off, and crossed the finish 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Octavian Rush, who sustained his forward momentum after the failed bid by Lizzy’s Lure. Octavian Rush finished 5 1/2 lengths ahead of third-place Interference, who nosed Lizzy’s Lure for the show placing.

Evader stopped the clock for the one-mile race in 1:38.60, and paid $5.20 to win.

The gelding races as a homebred for owner Penny Lauer and trainer Michael Lauer.

Saturday’s race was Evader’s third win in eight career starts, increasing his earnings to $100,294. It was also his first victory in stakes competition.

Evader has come into his own during the first half of his 3-year-old season, winning an allowance at Indiana Grand earlier in the meet and finishing second in another during his 2017 debut. His only serious stumble of the meet thus far was an eighth-place finish in the Sagamore Sired Stakes on May 24.