09/14/2017 6:17PM

Master Merion rallies late win to Franklin-Simpson Stakes

Reed Palmer Photography/Kentucky Downs
Master Merion unleashed a furious stretch rally to score by two lengths in Thursday's Franklin-Simpson Stakes at Kentucky Downs.

FRANKLIN, Ky. – Speed contributed to Master Merion winning a mile allowance at Del Mar last month, taking charge early in a slow paced race, but it was his versatility that propelled him to his first stakes victory in Thursday’s $250,000 Franklin-Simpson Stakes at Kentucky Downs.

Altering his style to settle 7 1/4 lengths off a hotly contested early pace, Master Merion unleashed a furious stretch rally from last to score a two-length victory over Secretary At War.

Holiday Stone, the early leader, held on well for third after taking pressure from favored Sonic Boom, who faded to eighth, getting eased across the wire.

Master Merion’s victory reflected the quality of the horse, and also the patient ride turned in by winning jockey Julio Garcia, who didn’t rush his mount in a race that was overloaded with speed.

Trainer Wesley Ward said the game plan was to rate over the wet Kentucky Downs course, which was labeled good by track officials and yielding by Equibase.

“It seemed like the guy that makes the last move was making it to the winner’s circle – so we figured we’d try that,” Ward said.

A 3-year-old gelded son of Quality Road owned by Vivienne Day and Kate Rose, Master Merion covered about seven furlongs in 1:27.95, paying $13.20.