04/04/2015 5:48PM

March holds off Lord Nelson in Bay Shore

Tom Keyser
March, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., scores by a half-length in the Bay Shore Stakes on Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – It took a little more than a minute and 24 seconds to run the Grade 3, $300,000 Bay Shore, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds, but a whole lot of things happened during that brief period.

The abridged description of the Bay Shore is that March, well back early, came with a good run to take the lead outside of horses in midstretch and then lasted by a half-length over Lord Nelson while drifting out in deep stretch.

The victory Saturday at Aqueduct was the second straight in the Bay Shore for trainer Chad Brown, who won the race in 2014 with Coup de Grace.

Lord Nelson had a very eventful trip, and on the far turn, it was hard to imagine that he would figure in the outcome of the race.

Lord Nelson was off a hair slow, moved up along the inside early on the backstretch, then began to weave and bob in and out and dropped from contention. On the far turn, he was last and appeared hopelessly beaten.

Jockey Joel Rosario didn't feel that way, though, and persisted. He took Lord Nelson out toward the middle of the track for the drive, and Lord Nelson came flying to be moving fastest at the finish.

The stewards conducted an inquiry into the race to determine if March's drifting had cost Lord Nelson the win but decided to let the order of finish stand.

Rosario said after the race that Lord Nelson didn't like getting hit in the face with dirt during the early going.

"I tried to put him in the race a little bit, but he didn't like getting hit with the dirt and started jumping up and down," he said. "He backed up and backed up, but when I got him outside in the stretch, he got running. It was really a very impressive race by him."

At the start of the Bay Shore, 80-1 shot Papa Upa set the pace on a short lead inside Easy to Say, who had broken through the gate before the start and had to be reloaded. Papa Upa held the lead in upper stretch but tired to finish in a dead heat for fifth with Majestic Affair.

Ackeret, the winner of the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes in his last start, tried to come up the rail inside Pap Upa in midstretch but bumped with Papa Upa several times and could not get through. He finished seventh.

Ready for Rye, who had won the Swale Stakes in his last start, was sent off as the 13-10 favorite. Close to the pace along the inside in the second flight early, he was taken three wide in upper stretch, bid for the lead between horses in a tightly packed group in midstretch, but was outfinished and beaten 4 1/4 lengths by Lord Nelson.

The riders of Papa Upa and Ackeret lodged claims of foul against third-place finisher Ready for Rye, alleging interference in midstretch. The stewards conducted an inquiry into the crowding incident in midstretch but let the order of finish stand.

Before the race was made official, the numbers of March, Ready for Rye, and fourth-place finisher Easy to Say were all flashing on the tote board as the stewards sorted things out.

March was making his fourth career start in the Bay Shore. He had won a two-turn maiden race second time out and then had flattened out in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile Withers in his most recent race.

"In the Withers, he looked really strong turning into the stretch, but he kind of lost his punch a little bit," Brown said by phone after the race. "He kind of did the same thing in his maiden win. He kind of indicated that he needed a cutback, which was the same way we won the Bay Shore last year with Coup de Grace."

March paid $21.20 to win as the fourth choice in the eight-horse field. He was timed in 1:24 .72 following fractions of 23.05 seconds, 46.79, and 1:12.19.

Brown said March will be pointed to the Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day, June 6. Brown said he wasn't certain if March will race prior to the Stephens.