Pat On The Back Hangs On Late In Kelso

Pat On the Back again displayed a comfort level racing at one mile, overtaking 6-5 favorite Prince Lucky from the outside in the stretch and fending off a late charge to register a half-length victory in the 39th running of the Grade 2, $300,000 Kelso Handicap for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Pat On the Back, owned by Harold Lerner, AWC Stables and Nehoc Stables, won for the third time in five starts at the Kelso distance. The Jeremiah Englehart trainee spoiled the bid for history by Prince Lucky Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who remained tied with Jerry Bailey with 660 career graded stakes wins in North America.

Breaking from post 3, Pat On the Back was placed by jockey Dylan Davis just off the early pacesetters in fourth position as True Timber dueled Prince Lucky and Monongahela up front, leading the six-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 22.96 seconds on the fast main track. Prince Lucky gained supremacy at the half-mile mark – a head in front of True Timber – in 45.73.

Out of the turn, Davis swung Pat On the Back, carrying 116 pounds, four-wide, where he overtook Prince Lucky just ahead of the eighth pole. Prince Lucky, the 119-pound co-highweight, battled back, with the pair linking up in deep stretch before the New York-bred held on for his third win in four starts, adding to the Commentator and the Affirmed Success during the spring/summer meet at Belmont.

“He really is a fighter and Dylan did a fantastic job of getting him off the pace,” Englehart said. “We didn’t want to be on the lead today and Dylan really did a masterful job of being able to get him back behind horses without fighting him too much. That was amazing.”

Bred by Sugar Maple Farm, Pat On the Back returned $9 on a $2 win wager. The 5-year-old son of Congrats earned millionaire status with the victory, improving his career earnings to $1,101,032.

“Today, I just tried to get him to relax,” said Davis, who won his third race on the day. “He broke sharp again today and I got a good hold of him and he settled behind the leaders. I put myself behind Johnny; he was the horse to beat. Once they kicked on, he opened up for me outside of him [Prince Lucky] and he finished well. He ran a good race today against open company.

“This is the best horse I’ve had in my career,” he added. “I’ve been with him from when he was a 2-year-old, watching him grow. It was a little emotional galloping out. We’re a team and we were pushing up the stages and both working a rank up.”

Prince Lucky, trained by Todd Pletcher, finished three lengths clear of True Timber for second. Velazquez, who tied Bailey’s graded stakes win record two races prior with Significant Form in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel, will have to wait until next week to try and set a new mark.

“He ran good. There was a fast pace and he was where he likes to be,” Velazquez said. “I was hoping I’d get up a little bit from the horses inside. He gets aggressive. I had to keep my hands down, but he ran a good race.”

Tale of Silence, Plainsman and Monongahela completed the order of finish. Golden Brown was scratched.

Live racing will resume Sunday with a 10-race card featuring the $125,000 John Hettinger, the $125,000 Ashley T. Cole and the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.

The post Pat On The Back Hangs On Late In Kelso appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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