12/21/2010 5:19PM

Royal Currier outlasts favored Fort Hughes by head in Southampton

Alyssa Spakowski/EQUI-PHOTO
Royal Currier (4), under Stewart Elliott, withstands a late move by 2-5 favorite Fort Hughes, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, to win the Southampton.

Jockey Stewart Elliott turned out to be a better handicapper than the public, who made New York shipper Fort Hughes the 2-5 favorite in Tuesday’s $75,000 Southampton Stakes at Parx Racing. Named on two horses, including the Darley Stable-owned Fort Hughes, Elliott chose to retain the mount on locally based 2-year-old gelding Royal Currier, who was coming off a wire-to-wire victory in an overnight stakes at Belmont Park.

Elliott made the right choice as Royal Currier ($8) held off Fort Hughes by a head in the six-furlong Southampton, an overnight stakes for 2-year-olds.

Elliott had Royal Currier sit just off the early pace set by Unleash the Humor, part of a coupled entry for trainer Mark Shuman. Royal Currier, trained by Patricia Farro, took a short lead passing the three-eighths pole, opened a clear lead, then had just enough to withstand Fort Hughes and jockey Ramon Dominguez.

Fort Hughes, who won his career debut at Belmont in October with an impressive 91 Beyer Speed Figure, easily was second best, finishing 2 ¾ lengths in front of Unleash the Humor’s stablemate, Sky Wars, in a field reduced to five by two scratches, including recent New York Stallion Stakes winner Eminent Tale. The winning time was 1:09.66.

A son of Red Bullet owned by Mat Stables, Royal Currier is now 4 for 6 lifetime. He was claimed out of a win while running for a $20,000 tag at Monmouth Park in early September and proceeded to take an optional claiming sprint at Delaware Park and finish second in a starter allowance at Monmouth before winning the Grey Planet at Belmont Park by 2 ½ lengths on Oct. 31.