09/10/2016 7:27PM

War Dancer delivers as odds-on choice in President's Cup

Taylor Ejdys/Equi-Photo
Junior Alvardo brings home War Dancer to a three-quarter-length victory in the PTHA President's Cup.

Rarely is there truly easy money in horse racing, and 3-5 favorite War Dancer had to work to win the $200,000 Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Association President’s Cup on Saturday at Parx Racing.

Trapped inside behind a slow pace, War Dancer found room before the quarter pole, was cropped five times by jockey Junior Alvarado as pacesetting Uncle Dave dug in through upper stretch, but came home under a final vigorous hand ride to tag Uncle Dave in the final half-furlong and score a three-quarter-length victory.

It was another six lengths back to second-choice Roman Approval, who had some run while pressing Uncle Dave until taking a bad step near the end of the second turn. Roman Approval lost his position and rhythm, and ran one-paced through the home stretch. Economic Data and Warrioroftheroses were scratched, leaving but five starters.

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It was Roman Approval’s misstep that afforded Alvarado room on War Dancer, who was last of five into the first turn as Uncle Dave and Roman Approval dawdled through a quarter-mile in 25.67 seconds. War Dancer was guided to the fence and came up inside through a half in 50.55, creeping into a spot on the rail just behind Uncle Dave through a 23.95-second third quarter, the fastest part of the race. He might have struggled to find room in time had Roman Approval held his spot, but once in the clear it was only a matter of time before War Dancer wore down Uncle Dave. He ran 1 1/8 miles on a course labeled firm (though copious divots came up during the stakes) in 1:52.31 and paid $3.20 to win.

Bill Mott trains War Dancer, a 6-year-old horse by War Front out of Deed I Do for the Diamond M Stable. Though he won his first stakes since the Louisville Handicap more than two years ago, War Dancer came into the soft-seeming President’s Cup with steady Grade 3 form and the Mott brand stamped on his past performances. Roman Approval, his main rival, was back on short rest after a busy campaign. War Dancer had landed in a great spot, was odds-on for good reason - but this being a horse race still had to run a little.