08/12/2017 7:14PM

Postulation likes the distance, wins American St. Leger

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Four-Footed Fotos
Jockey Jorge Vargas won his first graded stakes Saturday aboard Postulation.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Arlington has been mighty kind to the Bentley family and trainer Eddie Graham. In 2014, they brought Hardest Core here and won the Arlington Million, and on Saturday they ran their local record to two graded stakes, two wins when Postulation proved much the best in the Grade 3, $250,000 American St. Leger.

“We love coming here,” said Gregory Bentley, who was with his wife Caroline on Saturday. Hardest Core, who is on the way back from an injury, won the Million racing in the name of the Bentleys’ son Andrew.

Graham, who has a steeplechase background, trains in the hills of Pennsylvania and knows well how to condition long-distance racehorses. The Bentleys privately purchased Postulation, who had been trained by Dermot Weld, in Ireland last year, but Postulation was slow to develop during his 2016 U.S. campaign. He showed signs of life earlier this year, and then moved far forward stretched out to 1 1/2 miles last out in the Cape Henlopen Stakes at Delaware, the same race Hardest Core won before his Million.

“It’s just the distance,” Graham said. “He just didn’t quicken going shorter. Alex Cintron rode him going a mile and a half last time at Delaware and said he just loved it. The farther the better.”

Graham put the little-known jockey Eriluis Vaz on Hardest Core in the Million, and in the St. Leger he entrusted the mount on Postulation to Jorge Vargas Jr., a 22-year-old Puerto Rican who won his first graded stakes while giving Postulation an excellent ride.

Crewman took the early lead with Vargas sitting just off the leaders while racing along the inside through a moderate tempo. Pace-pushing Bullards Alley began trying to get out racing into the second off three turns, and had to be taken up midway down the backstretch. Applicator, too, was overly headstrong and fell back on the outside before the half-mile pole. By then, Crewman had stopped, and there was Postulation, on the lead.

“I made the lead earlier than I wanted in such a long race,” Vargas said. “But he was just on his game today. He wanted to run.”

Indeed he did. Postulation opened up daylight around the turn, and his inability to produce instant acceleration didn’t matter a bit. Never wavering, Postulation powered through the homestretch and had 2 1/4 lengths on Taghleeb at the finish. Taghleeb finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of his Mike Maker-trained stablemate Keystoneforvictory, the 9-5 favorite.

Postulation was timed in 2:49.45 for 1 11/16 miles on firm turf and paid $12.40.

A 5-year-old, Postulation was bred by Juddmonte Farms and is by Harlan’s Holiday and out of the Dansili mare Supposition. Graham said the gelding might make his next start in the Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs.