05/30/2015 7:29PM

Golden Lad turns Mountainview Handicap into a romp

B&D Photography
Javier Castellano collects his second stakes win of the card aboard Golden Lad in the Mountainview.

GRANTVILLE, Pa. - Golden Lad turned what looked like a wide-open Mountainview Handicap into a one-sided affair by opening a large lead in upper stretch and then easily holding off a late run by Kid Cruz to win by five lengths.

Golden Lad, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano, set or forced the early pace inside locally based Very Lucky. He put him away nearing the stretch and the race was virtually over at that point.

Golden Lad paid $5.80 as the favorite in the 11-horse field.

"To be honest, I didn’t expect to be on the lead, but he broke so well at the gate I used my own judgment and took it from there," Castellano said. "I didn’t want to get into a duel because it’s a mile and an eighth. But, fortunately, the horse ran so well."

Kid Cruz, trained by Linda Rice, was last for six furlongs, and then rallied wide into the stretch. He finished well but Golden Lad was already long gone.

Nowalking, trained in California by Phil D'Amato, finished third, three lengths behind Kid Cruz.

Golden Lad, 5, is now 7 for 14 in his career with earnings of $466,000. He won the Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park two starts back in February. In his last start, he finished fourth in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap behind his Pletcher-trained stablemate Race Day.

Castellano also won the Penn Oaks on Strict Compliance earlier on the card.

Tight finishes in Oaks and Governor's Cup

The first two undercard stakes at Penn National on Saturday night both ended with thrilling last-second decisions.

In the $150,000 Pennsylvania Oaks, Strict Compliance rallied relentlessly in the stretch to get up late and defeat even-money favorite Quality Rocks by a half-length.

Ridden by Javier Castellano and trained by Chad Brown, Strict Compliance has now won three straight races and is 3 for 4 in her career.

Quality Rocks, rated off front-running 15-1 shot Gypsy Judy, and then reeled her in after a long stretch drive. Gypsy Judy finished a good third and was only beaten a neck by Quality Rocks.

Strict Compliance paid $6.20 to win and was timed in 1:34.83 for a  mile over firm turf.

The top three finishers in the $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup put on quite a stretch battle with Amelia's Wild Ride grabbing the lead outside pacesetting Bold Thunder in deep stretch and then holding off a late-flying Ben's Cat to win a nose photo finish.

Ben's Cat put in a determined stretch run, surging late, but came up just short.

Bold Thunder did not break especially sharp but used his superior early speed to move up and take a clear lead. Amelia's Wild Ride tracked Bold Thunder to the stretch, then fought hard to finally get up nearing the wire. Bold Thunder finished third, a neck behind Ben's Cat.

Amelia's wild Ride is trained by Parx-based Ramon Preciado and was ridden by Jose Lezcano. He paid $10.80 and was timed in 55.20 seconds for five furlongs on turf.

Amelia's Wild Ride finished third, beaten four lengths by Ben's Cat and 3 3/4 lengths by Bold Thunder when third in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico on May 15.

"I think the difference today was the change in riders to Jose," Preciado said. "He was pretty cool and relaxed him early in a good way, and that's how he wants to run."

** Royal Renege ($9.60) rallied from well back to win the $75,000 Lyphard Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares at Penn National by one length Saturday night. Lenape Rim, who won the Lyphard a year ago. finished second.

Royal Renege is trained by Elizabeth Merryman and was riden by Jevian Toledo.