10/22/2016 4:31PM

Very active Pat On the Back runs away with Sleepy Hollow


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Ken McPeek believes Pat On the Back thrives on activity, which is why he had no reservations running him for the fifth time in 11 weeks in Saturday’s $250,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes for New York-bred juveniles at Belmont Park.

“He’s just a real sturdy colt, he doesn’t miss an oat, he likes what he does every day,” McPeek said. “I know it’s a poor analogy, but he reminds me of Harlan’s Holiday, a nondescript Ohio-bred who kept getting better.”

McPeek isn’t saying Pat On the Back will develop into a Grade 1 winner such as Harlan’s Holiday, but the colt did pick up his second statebred stakes of the year, winning the Sleepy Hollow by 1 1/2 lengths.

Under Dylan Davis, Pat On the Back dueled outside of Haul Anchor through a half-mile in 47.45 seconds. Pat On the Back gradually opened a 2 1/2-length lead coming to the quarter pole.

Pat On the Back turned for home with a clear lead and was never seriously threatened in the stretch. Pat On the Back covered the one mile in 1:40.08 and returned $43.20.

Tellmeafookystory rallied to get second by 1 1/4 lengths over Gold for the King, the 5-2 favorite. He was followed, in order, by Mr. Buff, Macho Miah, Eddie’s Gift, Mission Command, Haul Anchor, and Runaway Lute.

Pat On the Back is owned by Harold Lerner, AWC Stables, and Nehoc Stables. Pat On the Back raced twice in 21 days at Saratoga, then won the Aspirant Stakes on Sept. 10 at Finger Lakes. He came back on Oct. 2 to finish in a dead heat for second with Haul Anchor behind Mirai in the Bertam F. Bongard Stakes.

McPeek said he left the tactics up to Davis and had no problem when he saw Pat On the Back on the lead early.

“I thought it was a great move on his part,” McPeek said. “The horse broke good. When they break good, let them do their thing.”

Davis said Pat On the Back got a little anxious in the gate, but “he was very sharp coming out and he pulled me right to the lead. I got to the quarter pole and I just let his speed carry him and he held on.”

McPeek said Pat On the Back is pre-nominated to the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs on Nov. 21, but he was far from ready to commit him to that race.

“We’ll take that a step at a time,” McPeek said. “We won’t rule it out, let’s just get past today."