Riverside Bloodstock's seasoned veteran Dimension (GB) showed that age is far from an issue when the 9-year-old gelding lit up the tote board at odds of 39-1, winning Saturday's 1 1/16-miles Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes over the Fair Grounds' Stall-Wilson Turf Course for trainer Conor Murphy.
Breaking from post four under James Graham, Dimension did not come out of the gate well but managed to sit second while Turbo Street (Aus) took control of the pace in the early stages and threw down splits of 25.11, 50.75 and 1:15.15 while the eventual winner tracked in the top tier alongside Thatcher Street and Saham. Approaching the top of the stretch Turbo Street began to give way while Dimension asserted himself to the front. Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Mike Maker-trained Sir Dudley Digges made a big move down the stretch but could not catch the eventual winner who completed the race in a time of 1:46.07. Agave Racing Stable and Sam-Son Farm's Up With The Birds took the show spot under Jamie Theriot for trainer Michelle Lovell.
“He broke horrible,” Graham said. “He ran off around the first turn and still won the race with room to spare. I thought I'd be on the lead by myself. He was running off on me, but I didn't want to choke him, so I just said, ‘Okay, whatever you're comfortable with.'”
The Diliberto was Dimension's first victory since last year's Gr. II King Edward Stakes at Woodbine. He overcame a six-race slump on Saturday afternoon where he did not finish on the board. The $45,000 winner's share brought his career bankroll up to $617,496 and has now won eight of his 41 lifetime starts. He returned $81.80, $27.40 and $12.20. Sir Dudley Digges paid $5.60 and $3.80, while Up With the Birds returned $7.40
Completeing the order of finish were Saham, High Noon Rider, Applicator, Thatcher Street, Turbo Street (Aus) and Tizzarunner.
Valentin Bukhtoyarov and Evgeny Kappushev's multiple Group I-winning millionaire Cooptado (Arg) made his first visit to the winner's circle since capturing the Group I Longines Singapore Gold Cup in 2015 when posting a gutsy nose win in the $75,000 Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The Tenacious highlighted a six-stakes, 13-race program on Santa Super Saturday.
Ridden by Declan Cannon for trainer Tom Morley, Cooptado settled within striking range early behind leader Sticksstatelydude through splits of 24.38, 47.94 and 1:12.75. As the leader began to fade, Clinton Glasscock and Two Dimes Stable's Shut the Box assumed command under Joe Bravo. The Angel Montano, Sr.-trainee battled the eventual winner throughout the final furlong but came up a nose short in a final time of 1:42.78 for the 1 1/16-miles trip. It was another 1½ lengths back to Steve Landers Racing's Brad Cox trainee Leofric, who rallied well off the layoff for third.
“I had a feeling at the wire that I was head on but I thought that my head was down at the right time,” Cannon said. “My horse is tough, I had a good trip, saved all the ground and got the rail turning for home. When the other horse (Shut the Box) came down to meet me we got into a ding dong, but I think it might have helped me.”
“We wanted to try him on the dirt at some point and there was nothing else for him coming up in the near future so we thought ‘You know what? We'll roll the dice see how he goes on the dirt and if doesn't work we can go back to the turf with him,'” Morley said. “But there's always a suspicion that those horses quicken away on the turf from him and in here he's been right there all the way around and he's super brave. And a cracking effort from my team who brought him back in three weeks. That's a big turnaround for an older horse like this. The first two races on grass probably set him up for this race today.”
Cooptado earned $45,000 for his efforts and increased his lifetime bankroll to $1,164,240 with his sixth win in 36 career starts. He returned $36.40, $12.60 and $6.60, while Shut the Box paid $9.80 and $4.20. Leofric paid $4.20.
Sticksstatelydude, Money Flows, Field of Courage and Far Right completed the running order. Dazzling Gem and Fear the Cowboy were scratched. Fear the Cowboy won Saturday's Harlan's Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream for trainer Efren Loza, Jr.
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