12/17/2016 8:36PM

Honorable Duty surges to Tenacious Stakes triumph

Email
. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr.

It was a strange but successful trip for Honorably Duty, who dueled early, dropped back middle, and surged late to win the $75,000 Tenacious Stakes by three-quarters of a length over 44-1 shot Raagheb on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Breaking from the rail under James Graham, Honorable Duty raced head and head with Financial Modeling around the first turn through an opening quarter-mile in a solid 23.79 seconds. Graham let Financial Modeling take over as Honorable Duty dropped to second on the backside and into the far turn, but when several horses made early moves on the outside, Honorable Duty, still hugging the rail, dropped back to fourth past the three-furlong pole, and still had four horses in front of him at the stretch call.

Graham, though, still had horses in his hands, and after flirting with a final run inside Financial Modeling, he tipped two paths from the fence to come between Financial Modeling and Raagheb at about the sixteenth pole, and Honorable Duty did the rest, beating Raagheb to the finish after he had beaten him to the spot. Brendan Walsh trains the winner, the second stakes winner on the card (following Proforma) for owner DARRS Inc.

“Brendan told me just keep out of his way as much as you can,” Graham said. “He finished off pretty well.”

Raagheb had 2 1/4 lengths on Financial Modeling at the finish. Financial Modeling was followed by Fear the Cowboy, Heisinfront, Great Minds, Dazzling Gem, The Truth Or Else, and Tale of Verve. The winner went 1 mile, 70 yards on a fast track in 1:42.37 and paid $14.

Honorable Duty was racing with blinkers off and was listed Saturday as a first-time gelding. By Distorted Humor and out of the A.P. Indy mare Mesmeric, he – like Buddy Diliberto Stakes winner Western Reserve earlier Saturday – was bred and initially owned by Juddmonte Farm and first trained by Bill Mott.

Honorable Duty won a maiden race and consecutive allowance races this past spring and summer, but had been fourth in the restricted Alydar at Saratoga and fifth in the Lukas Classic at Churchill before winning his first stakes Saturday.

Runner-up Raagheb probably ran the best race of his career, making his first start for trainer Tom Amoss. Dazzling Gem, the 2-1 favorite, raced near the back of the field while slow to settle in the early going, made a wide move into the far turn and reached contention at the head of the homestretch, but flattened out and finished seventh in a disappointing performance.

Golden Mischief drops, turns back, wins easily

Favored Golden Mischief got a favorable setup in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial and made the most of it, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Flatter Up. Forest Circle finished third in the six-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies.

Golden Mischief, trained by Steve Asmussen for Corrine and William Heiligbrodt, had capped a three-race winning streak with a victory in the $100,000 My Trusty Cat Stakes at Delta Downs in October, but in the Grade 3 Delta Princess there last month, Golden Mischief never got into the race and finished seventh, beaten more than 20 lengths.

She appeared to be into the bridle from the start Saturday, even while sixth down the backstretch for jockey David Flores, and with Flatter Up going a quick opening quarter-mile in 21.98 seconds and a half in 45.56, Golden Mischief was in good shape. Flores, staying outside, followed Forest Circle into the homestretch, passed her, took aim on Flatter Up, Golden Mischief making the lead past the furlong pole on the way to a comfortable win. She stopped the timer in 1:10.90 for six furlongs and paid $5 to win.

Golden Mischief is by Into Mischief and out of the Carson City mare Lania Mischief. She won for the fourth time in eight starts.