08/03/2008 11:00PM

Wesley overcomes slow pace


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Mark Hennig was getting a little nervous as he watched a series of slow fractions posted on the tote board while Wesley was still "looking at all of them" after the opening six furlongs of Monday's National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga.

Not to worry.

Despite the soft pace, Wesley was able to close steadily down the middle of the course to run down game pacesetter Thou Swell to post a half-length victory in the Grade 2, $150,000 Hall of Fame. The win was the second in as many starts on turf for Wesley, a son of El Prado, who paid $8.70.

Wesley and jockey Javier Castellano dropped to the rear of the seven-horse field as Thou Swell cut out fractions of 24.17 seconds, 49.38, and 1:14.77 for the opening six furlongs of the Hall of Fame. Castellano angled Wesley out five wide entering the stretch, after which the pair came on strong to wear down the leader in the final strides.

Thou Swell held off a bid from Willsboro Point near midstretch, before ultimately succumbing to the winner at the end. Thou Swell did hang on tenaciously to finish second by a nose over Deal Making, who came on strongly after taking up sharply and getting jostled when lacking racing room near midstretch.

Adriano rallied belatedly under jockey Edgar Prado after escaping traffic near the sixteenth pole to finish fourth as the even-money favorite. Prado was inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier in the day.

"Once he moved up on even terms with Adriano, and we had momentum going around the second turn, I was relieved," said Hennig, who trains Wesley for the Willmott Stable. "He always trained like a graded stakes winner but was struggling on the dirt earlier in his career and wasn't living up to expectations. Sometimes a switch to grass brings that ability out in them."

Hennig mentioned the Grade 3 Saranac here Aug. 31 as an option for Wesley's next start.