05/21/2016 2:22PM

Marengo Road scores upset in James W. Murphy Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Marengo Road and jockey Julian Pimentel win the James W. Murphy Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths Saturday.

BALTIMORE – The versatile Marengo Road is now a stakes winner on both dirt and turf after holding off a furious rally from the favored Aquaphobia to pull off an upset in the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes for 3-year-olds on the Pimlico turf Saturday.

Marengo Road ($33.80) got a perfect stalking trip under Julian Pimentel, sitting a comfortable third, about a length back and slightly to the outside of Ousby and Conquest Windycity, who took the field through easy splits of 24.45 and 49.52 seconds.

"The only thing I asked [Pimentel] was to try not to get shuffled back," winning trainer Michael Trombetta said.

Marengo Road steadily rolled up on the outside of the leaders around the far turn, with the three colts on nearly even terms approaching the top of the stretch. Conquest Windycity attempted to kick on, but Marengo Road wore him down and kicked clear approaching the furlong pole. He hit the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front, stopping the clock in 1:39.04 for the mile on turf officially rated “good.”

Aquaphobia, who had only one horse beaten with a quarter-mile remaining, came storming down the center of the course in the final stages but came up short. After the top two, it was 2 1/2 lengths back to Conquest Windycity, who held off Copingaway by half a length for third.

Marengo Road, a son of Quality Road, has won 4 of 10 career starts for owners Harry and Tom Meyerhoff. The winner of the Miracle Wood Stakes on the Laurel Park main track two starts back, he is now 3-2-1-0 on turf.

Trombetta declined to name a specific next target for the colt, who he believes will be better as he gains more experience. However, the trainer hinted that his charge’s future likely will be on turf.

"He's done well on any different kind of surface, but there's something about these turf races that excites me a little bit more about him,” Trombetta said. “He's a long, tall kind of horse. I think time's on his side."