Amerman Racing homebred Oscar Performance has now won his last three starts, two of which were Grade 1 stakes, including Saturday's G1 Secretariat Stakes on the Arlington International Festival of Racing card. The 3-year-old son of Kitten's Joy, ridden by Jose Ortiz for trainer Brian Lynch, covered 1 1/4 miles over Arlington's firm turf in 2:01.79 to defeat Taj Mahal by 2 1/2 lengths.
“You're never confident until the finish line but they were very good horses and so we're delighted Jose could ride so well and beat him,” said John Amerman. “I said good luck [to Jose Ortiz before the race] because he knows the horse and has ridden him ever since his first race.”
Off as the wagering favorite, Oscar Performance broke well and with the field, settling just off the frontrunning Sonic Boom. Those two led the field through fractions of :24.77, :49.51, and 1:13.83, followed by the pair of Afandem and Permian in unison, and then Taj Mahal and Gorgeous Kitten trailing while just nine lengths off the lead.
Rounding the far turn, Ortiz was making his move aboard Oscar Performance as he went after the leading Sonic Boom, and the closest competitors' jockeys, aboard Afandem and Permian, were already scrubbing away on their mounts and making no progress. Oscar Performance drew even with Sonic Boom at the head of the lane, then steadily drew away from that rival in the stretch. Taj Mahal came with a strong late rally, gaining second while never seriously threatening the winner. Afandem got in front of Sonic Boom to be third.
“He [Oscar Performance] was sitting very comfortably in second and when I asked him to go he ran very well,” Ortiz said. “I love that Brian [Lynch] gave me the opportunity on this horse. I'm very happy I won the race for them [connections John Amerman and Brian Lynch].”
After the wire, Permian appeared to go down on the turf, and jockey William Buick had to be carried off the course via stretch. Permian had to be euthanized, and Buick was transported to the hospital conscious, but complaining of neck/back pain. DRF later reported that Buick sustained a fracture to his T-12 vertebrae; though it does not require surgery to repair, he will be out of commission for some time.
Bred in Kentucky by his owners, Oscar Performance now owns a trio of Grade 1 wins, including last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. He struggled in his first two starts of 2017, but appears to be firing on all cylinders heading into the fall season. Overall, Oscar Performance boasts a record of six wins from nine starts, with earnings of over $1.7 million.
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