Updated on 09/17/2011 8:56PM

Prince Arch victorious off the bench

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Prince Arch #2 with Brice Blanc riding wins the $250,000 Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders Cup Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.- Prince Arch, making his first start in seven months, proved narrowly best in a blanket finish to capture Sunday's Grade 1, $250,000 .

Prince Arch rallied between horses under jockey Brice Blanc to beat the fast charging Gigli by a nose with the 7-5 favorite Mustanfar finishing another half length further back in third. Little more than a length separated the top seven finishers with Navesink River, Demeteor, Macaw and Swagger Stick all finishing just noses and heads behind the top trio.

Prince Arch had been away since winning the Grade 3 Saranac Handicap at Saratoga on Sept. 6 and was using this race as a prep for the $2,000,000 Dubai Sheema Classic on March 26. His final time of 2:11.44 seconds established a new course record for one mile and three furlongs, breaking the old mark set an hour earlier by Honey Ryder.

Prince Arch($16.60), one of the top 3-year-old turf horses in the country before being sidelined last fall, is owned by Raymond H Cottrell Sr. and trained by Ken McPeek who also won the 2004 GP Breeders' Cup Handicap with Hard Buck.

Prince Arch saved ground while stalking the early pace, eased out at the head of the stretch and after finally overtaking the leaders in deep stretch narrowly outlasted Gigli. The runnerup rallied from the rear of the pack and out in the middle of the racetrack, finishing full of run to just miss. Mustanfar made a very strong move around the final turn but was fanned six wide into the stretch to lose much of his momentum before re-rallying once finally straightened away for the drive.

Prince Arch's victory set off a strange display in the winner's circle with Blanc, McPeek and most of the owner's party wearing feathered Mardi Gras masks for the win picture.

"My owner said he wouldn't send this horse to Dubai if I didn't wear the mask,

"McPeek explained. "I've trained for Mr. Cottrell for 15 years, he's been my most loyal owner and this is his first Grade 1 winner. I couldn't be happier for him. He had an ankle that worried me after the Saranac so I just decided to back off him because I thought he'd make a great older horse. He's trained well and with his running style he wasn't hard to get ready for this race. He will be very tough to beat in Dubai.

McPeek said Prince Arch will leave for Dubai on Saturday.