Updated on 09/17/2011 11:01AM

Mr. Decatur takes Borderland Derby


Sunland Park, N.M. - In a race that Sunland Park officials hope was a prevue of the inaugural $500,000 WinStar Derby, Mr. Decatur battled Excessivepleasure through the stretch before taking a slim advantage near the wire to win Sunday's $104,100 . Mr. Decatur, owned by Heiligbrodt Racing Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, stalked Excessivepleasure under Sal Gonzalez Jr. through a 45.14 half mile before bidding two wide. Excessivepleasure, with Ricardo Jaime up, dug in gamely to set up an exciting stretch duel. Excessivepleasure clung to a narrow lead going past the sixteenth pole but could not hold off Mr. Decatur at the end of one mile in 1:36.23.

Excessivepleasure, owned by Ty and Leroy Leatherman, was bet down to 2-5 based on his win in the California Breeder's Championship December 26 at Santa Anita and a strong second to Valid Video on Sunshine Millions Day at Gulfstream. The Borderland was his first route attempt, however, and trainer Doug O'Neill was pleased with the effort. "He got a little stirred up in the paddock, then was hung out a bit on the clubhouse turn. He should get a lot out of this race and if all goes well he will be back for the WinStar." Excessivepleasure, a gelding by In Excess who was a bargain $17,000 purchase at the Barretts October 2001 sale, now has two wins and two good seconds from four outs and has earned $172,502.

Mr. Decatur had something something to prove entering the race as well. A $140,000 yearling at Keeneland's September 2001 sale, Mr. Decatur entered the race with a 6-2-3-0 record, but that one off-the-board performance was a real clinker. In his only race to date against top company, the $500,000 Delta Jackpot on December 21, he finished tenth and last, beaten 33 lengths. Mr. Decatur needed a strong effort in the Borderland to impress Asmussen enough to go for the WinStar and he did not disappoint. Tony Mathieson, an Asmussen assistant who saddled Mr. Decatur, commented after the race. "We got what we were looking for, and it looks right now as if all is a go for the WinStar." Mr. Decatur, by Banker's Gold, paid $7.80, and with the betting skewed towards Excessivepleasure, the $1 exacta returned a surprising $9.80. Mr. Decatur gained $62,460 for the win and now sports a career total of $138,375.

The WinStar Derby, formerly known the Riley Allison Derby, will be run March 30 at 1 1/16 miles.