10/18/2014 4:55PM

Kharafa upsets familiar foes in Mohawk Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Kharafa scored an upset win over familiar foes Saturday in the Mohawk Stakes at Belmont Park.

Going off at virtually the same price as last year when he ran next to last, Kharafa turned the tables and posted a mild upset over familiar foes Lubash and the even-money choice King Kreesa in Saturday’s 36th running of the $200,000 Mohawk Stakes.

After breaking alertly from the one hole, Kharafa deftly was steered outside approaching the backstretch by Angel Arroyo, and raced in close attendance to King Kreesa, who was able to set a relatively comfortable pace of 25.67, 51.25, and 1:15.73 seconds.

Despite the modest pace, Kharafa met with little resistance from King Kreesa and readily surged to a clear lead into the stretch and remained safely clear by just over a length from Lubash, in what was their eighth meeting since the 2013 Kingston Stakes.

“He broke nice,” said Arroyo. “King Kreesa went to the lead, and I took him to second and relaxed. I waited, and when I let him go, he ran hard. He was ready for the race. He was doing it pretty easy.”

Kharafa paid $15.40 as the third choice. The 5-year-old gelding ran the “about” distance of 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.01 over an inner turf course labeled good, and upped his record to 8-7-4 from 25 starts for Tim Hills.

“If [he] gets in tight and they slow the pace down, he gets really rank,” said Hills. “So Angel’s job was to hustle him out of there and get in the clear, so that when King Kreesa took the lead, he could get out around him. He did that with perfection. It went according to script. Every once in a while, that happens. We’ll run him to the end of the turf season and bring him back next year.”

Lubash finished well for his third runner-up finish in the Mohawk to go along with placings in 2013 and 2011.

The defending titlist King Kreesa managed to save third over Notacatbutallama.

Ocala Jim, Captain Gaughen, and Front completed the order of finish.

Discreet Marq stalks to victory in Ticonderoga

In the 34th running of the Ticonderoga Stakes, Discreet Marq stalked the longshot pacesetter One Time Only through the early stages, took over at will turning for home, and cruised through the stretch beneath Irad Ortiz Jr. to win the $200,000 stakes for fillies and mares geared down.

Although she had not won since taking the Pebbles Stakes over the same Widener turf course 369 days earlier, Discreet Marq ($3.60) since had been narrowly beaten in several Grade 1 stakes, and she simply outclassed 11 rivals to win decisively while geared down late.

Old Harbor rallied wide to be a clear second over Selenite. Last year’s winner, Effie Trinket, finished a non-threatening fourth after a slow start.
The only anxious moment for the favorite’s backers came after the race, when there was a steward’s inquiry and an objection by Taylor Rice aboard Mah Jong Maddnes, alleging interference into the far turn, which was dismissed.

“She’s such a nice filly,” said Ortiz. “She broke well, I sat and waited, and when I asked her, she took off. There weren’t any surprises.”

Discreet Marq, a homebred 4-year-old filly by Discreet Cat, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.36 on a Widener course rated good. She improved to 7-5-3 from 19 starts, and the $120,000 winner’s share pushed her career earnings over the $1 million plateau.

“There’s a saying, ‘There’s nothing like the drop,’ and I guess this confirms it,” said trainer Christophe Clement. “She’s been running in Grade 1s all along, and this was an easy race, and she won it very nicely. She’s never run a bad race. She’s a lovely mare.”