Updated on 09/16/2011 8:33AM

Gygistar lifts spirits in Riva Ridge


ELMONT, N.Y. - An emotional day for owner-breeder Edward Evans and trainer Mark Hennig ended on a high note Saturday as Gygistar rallied from off the pace to win the $190,000, Grade 2 by 4 1/2 lengths over Draw Play.

True Direction got up for third, a half-length over 6-5 favorite Yankee Gentleman.

Gygistar's victory came 2 1/2 hours after Pleasant County, an older half-sister to Gygistar who was owned by Evans and trained by Hennig, suffered a fatal skull fracture when she fell in the WNBC Stakes.

"That was an emotional one," Hennig said. "This horse has trained as good as any horse I've had in a long time; I've been extremely high on him. I was looking forward to the fact that Pleasant County, being his sister, was going to be a sister to a really nice horse. Unfortunately, we've seen the ups and downs in the game all in one afternoon, within a barn within a bloodline."

Gygistar, a gelded son of Prospector's Music out of Starr County, is now 4 for 5.

"I was real sad about his sister," Evans said. "But, he's got a lot of talent, doesn't he? So did she."

Pat Day picked up the mount from Eibar Coa, who may have suffered a separated left shoulder in the Pleasant County spill. Day had Gygistar in midpack while Day Trader set fractions of 22.05 seconds and 44.02, chased by Outstander and Yankee Gentleman. Yankee Gentleman forged to the front approaching the five-sixteenths pole, but was passed by Gygistar in upper stretch.

As Gygistar drew clear, Draw Play rallied up the rail to get second.

"He took me to the leader at the head of the stretch, in hand, went on by [Yankee Gentleman] and then threw his ears up and it was petty much a cakewalk from there to the wire," Day said.

Gygistar covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.61 and returned $10.20 to win.