10/01/2017 7:34PM

Itsinthepost by a head in John Henry Turf Championship

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Itsinthepost (No. 1) narrowly beats Prime Attraction in the John Henry Turf Championship.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Luck abandoned Itsinthepost at a pivotal time in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 19. The story was reversed in Sunday’s Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita, where Itsinthepost had much better fortune.

Guided by Tyler Baze, Itsinthepost rallied between runners in the stretch to win by a head over Prime Attraction, a 7-1 shot. The win left owners Jed Cohen and his family and trainer Jeff Mullins considering a start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar on Nov. 4 for Itsinthepost, a 5-year-old French-bred gelding.

But the loss in the Del Mar Handicap was still on their minds. Hunt, who won the Del Mar Handicap, has a fees-paid berth in the BC Turf for that win.  The pre-entry and starting fees for the BC Turf are $100,000 for Itsinthepost.

Considering the way Itsinthepost won the $201,035 John Henry Turf Championship, the investment may be worthwhile. Itsinthepost trailed by a length with a furlong to go but showed a sharp rally to reach the front with little time to spare. Itsinthepost, who paid $5.20 as the slight favorite, ran 1 1/4 miles in 1:58.28.

“He’ll make you pull your hair out,” Mullins said. “He should have won last time. He’s got a strong kick if he gets somewhere to go. He showed that in his last race.”

Itsinthepost was beaten three-quarters of a length in the Del Mar Handicap, closing six lengths in the final three furlongs.

In Sunday’s race, Prime Attraction finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Frank Conversation, who was followed by Inordinate, Chicago Style, Up With the Birds, Hunt, and Dressed in Hermes.

Prime Attraction set the pace and was closely followed by Hunt to early stretch, where Hunt faded from contention under jockey Flavien Prat. Prat later told trainer Phil D’Amato that he wished he had kept Hunt behind other runners instead of outside of Prime Attraction and in the clear. Hunt faded in the final furlong to finish 7 1/2 lengths behind Itsinthepost.

“He said when he didn’t have a chance to win, he didn’t beat him up,” D’Amato said of his post-race conversation with Prat.

Itsinthepost has won 6 of 29 starts and earned $695,712. The John Henry Turf Championship was Itsinthepost’s third graded stakes win this year. In the spring, Itsinthepost won consecutive Grade 2 stakes in the San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita and the Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland.

Those races were at 1 1/2 miles, the same distance as the BC Turf.

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