Mr. and Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone's homebred Middleburg got a ground-saving trip from jockey Joe Bravo, angling out at the head of the lane and lasting late to win the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes by a half-length. The 6-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid covered a mile over Monmouth Park's firm turf course in 1:33.62 for trainer Christophe Clement, earning his second lifetime graded stake victory.
“This horse is just so good,” said Bravo. “We got the perfect trip in behind horses and he settled great. Around the turn we moved to the outside and he just ran those horses down. It's fun to ride ones like this.”
Middleburg broke well under Bravo, settling in fourth along the inside rail as the field moved for the first turn. Fredericksburg surprised Rose Brier by taking the lead out of the gate, but Rose Brier was right alongside that rival through a first quarter in :24.11. Reporting Star was three-wide in third, about a length off the lead, while Middleburg held patiently along the rail to save all the ground. Fredericksburg maintained his lead through a half-mile in :47.46, before tiring at the head of the lane.
Rose Brier inherited the lead entering the stretch, but Middleburg was angling out just as Bravo asked him the question. Middleburg responded enthusiastically, bursting out to a one-length lead over the field with a sixteenth of a mile to run. Vyjack made a strong run at him late from the rear of the field, but Middleburg had just enough left to outlast that rival by a half-length at the wire. Vyjack settled for second, while Rose Brier held on to be third. Golden Sabre finished fourth.
Bred in Virginia by his owners, Middleburg is out of a Group 3-winning Irish-bred daughter of Spectrum named Rum Charger, also campaigned by the Firestones overseas. Middleburg's career record now stands at 6-8-3 from 19 starts, with earnings of $430,000.
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