Sunday, 17 June 2012
: Ron The Greek confirmed his championship credentials with a thrilling victory over the favourite Wise Dan in the G1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
The five-year-old horse capped a big night for trainer Bill Mott, who also saddled champion Royal Delta for an eight lengths victory in G2 Fleur des Lis on the same program.
Ron The Greek has now won four of his last six starts including a convincing 3.5 lengths victory in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap earlier this term. He entered the 9 furlongs Foster off a second in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap.
He turned the tables on Acclamation, a disappointing fifth on fifth and is now rated near the top of the older horse division.
Ridden by his regular jockey Jose Lezcano, Ron The Greek was shuffled back early and found the the rail as the field entered the first turn.
He remained on the fence all the way and closed determinedly to get up in the final strides as the 9/1 fifth choice.
Mott won last year's Breeders' Cup Classic with Drosselmeyer and has the same plan for Ron The Greek, especially as it will be run this year at Santa Anita.
"Having won at ten furlongs at Santa Anita, it was certainly on our minds," he said. "We'll probably give him a break now and point for the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then the Breeders' Cup Classic.
"He seems like he's an improving horse and you'd have to say he's one of the top handicap horses in the country."
* LAST week's Belmont Stakes winning jockey John Velazquez was taken to hospital with shoulder injuries after a fall at Churchill Downs on Saturday night.
Velazquez was thrown heavily into the dirt when Mr Producer broke down in the ninth race.
Two more horses came down in the melee with Velazquez appearing to be kicked while he was on the ground.