Eloise and Peter Canzone Sr.'s Dr. Edgar, making his 19th career start but first in a stakes, opened a comfortable lead in the early stages and dug in to hold off a late charge from Grade 2 winner Hawkish for a half-length victory in Friday's $100,000 Appleton (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 67th running of the Appleton for 4-year-olds and up going one mile on the turf was the second of three $100,000 stakes, two graded, on an 11-race card that served as a prelude to Saturday's $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) program.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer Barclay Tagg, and narrowly favored over Hawkish at 3-1, Dr. Edgar ($8) ran one mile in 1:34.65 over a turf course rated good. Hawkish was two lengths ahead of multiple Grade 3 winner Doctor Mounty in third, and Uncle B was a nose back in fourth.
“I thought he'd lay second all the way around and hopefully win,” Tagg said. “He went right to the front and opened up a little on the backside – I got a little worried then. Julien gave him a little breather and went on to win it. He's knows the horse and he's an excellent rider.”
A two-length winner in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer Feb. 22 at Gulfstream following a stalking trip under Leparoux, Dr. Edgar went straight to the lead from Post 2 in the field of nine and opened up by two lengths after going the first quarter-mile in 24.29 seconds with Holiday Stone, Uncle B and Hawkish leading the second flight.
Dr. Edgar extended his advantage to 3 ½ lengths after going the half in 47.87, but the cushion diminished to a head over 17-1 long shot Holiday Stone as the field approached the far turn following six furlongs in 1:11.74. Hawkish split horses once straightened for home with sights set on Dr. Edgar, but was unable to catch the winner.
“Before the race, it looked like there was no speed so I just wanted to break good and put him in the race,” Leparoux said. “I ended up being by myself on the lead. When they came to me at the quarter pole he re-broke and we went all the way. It was good.”
Cowboy's Hero, Holiday Stone, Krampus, Uno Emayo and Vici completed the order of finish.
It was the second win on the card for Tagg, who entered the day with one win from 24 starters. He took over training of Dr. Edgar last summer and has seen the gelded 6-year-old son of 2010 Preakness (G1) winner and 2-year-old and 3-year-old champion Lookin At Lucky finish worse than second just once in six tries.
“I was lucky. I was given the horse when Carl Domino retired,” Tagg said. “We'll play it by ear as we go along. He won the Appleton. It's a step up. If he can keep stepping up, we'll keep stepping up with him.”
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