10/25/2014 6:08PM

Pick of the Litter delivers in Fayette

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Coady Photography
Pick of the Litter delivered his second win in three starts with a score Saturday in the Fayette Stakes at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Pick of the Litter finally delivered on the promise trainer Dale Romans felt he showed all along, splitting horses in deep stretch to win the Grade 2, $200,000 Fayette Stakes, the closing-day feature at Keeneland.

It was the first career stakes victory for Pick of the Litter ($16.60), a 4-year-old Kitten’s Joy colt who was unstarted as a juvenile due to colic surgery.

“It took him awhile to get to where he had free movement again,” trainer Dale Romans said, adding that the surgery did not require a resection. “It took him awhile, but I always felt there was a top horse in there.”

Pick of the Litter settled back in fifth early under Corey Lanerie as Call Me George established a sensible early pace in the Fayette, ticking off splits of :24.39, :48.23, and 1:12.29. Favored Departing, on the inside, and second choice Long River, who was keen on the outside, disputed the issue with the leader and had assumed command turning for home. Departing shook clear with a furlong to run, but Pick of the Litter came on with a strong run to split horses and win by a neck.

The final time the 1 1/8 miles on the fast track was 1:49.48. Following the top two, Long River held third over a rallying Code West.

This was the second victory in the last three starts for Pick of the Litter. The colt defeated Breeders’ Cup Classic contender Cigar Street in an allowance optional event at Saratoga in August, when the latter was coming off a layoff of over a year. Pick of the Litter then finished fourth in the Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs behind Cigar Street, Departing, and Call Me George.

“He’s gotten better as he’s gotten older,” Romans said. “Cigar Street is a hell of a horse. When [Pick of the Litter] beat him, I feel like he turned a corner.”

Romans mentioned the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs, as a potential target for Pick of the Litter.