03/04/2017 4:46PM

Ticonderoga fires big shot off the bench to win Palm Beach Stakes

Coglianese Photos
Ticonderoga, ridden by Joel Rosario, wins the Palm Beach Stakes by one length.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Ticonderoga signaled that he could be a major force in the 3-year-old turf ranks this year when the Tapit colt powered to a one-length victory Saturday in the 31st running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Given a terrific ride by Joel Rosario, Ticonderoga rallied from eighth in a field of nine, cutting inside a drifting rival on the far turn before angling out for the drive and proving clearly best. He paid $7 as a slight favorite after finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.38 over firm turf.

“It was a beautiful ride by Joel,” said Chad Brown, who trains Ticonderoga for the Woodford Racing partnership headed by Bill Farish. “I’m really proud of this horse. He’s been a tough horse to ride and had some quirks to him. He’s really matured mentally, and we’re hoping to have a big year with him.”

Kitten’s Cat forged to the lead after putting away Sailing Home leaving the quarter pole but was no match for the oncoming Ticonderoga when finishing second, another length before the late-running Snap Decision. Sailing Home was fourth.

“He was just much the best horse today,” said Rosario. “He’s a very talented horse.”

Ticonderoga was making his first start in four months after finishing a fast-closing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. Brown initially was inclined to bypass the Palm Beach and wait for the April 7 Transylvania Stakes but said the colt came around so quickly in his training that “we thought we’d just go ahead and start him out in this spot.”

Brown said the Transylvania will be next, with the major long-term goal being the Grade 1 Belmont Derby at 1 1/4 miles this summer. “We’d like to eventually stretch him out,” said Brown.

The $2 exacta (9-4) paid $35.40, the $1 trifecta (9-4-5) returned $58.30, and the 10-cent superfecta (9-4-5-2) was worth $62.14.