Radar Racing's Rated R Superstar got his first graded stakes victory on Saturday in Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Carry Back Stakes, flying up the center of the track late to defeat Awesome Banner by three-quarters of a length. The sophomore son of Kodiak Kowboy covered seven furlongs on the fast main track in 1:22.09 under Cornelio Velasquez for trainer Kenny McPeek.
“That was the plan [make one run] but there wasn't too much speed in the race,” commented Velasquez. “My horse came fast in the end. At the quarter-pole I thought I had a lot of horse—he was going easy, easy—and then I asked him the last three-sixteenths and he came on. I think he can be a pretty nice sprinter. He ran long and I think he didn't like it. Maybe seven-eighths is the best distance for him.”
Rated R Superstar broke near the rear of the field, allowing the speedy Awesome Banner to race out for the early lead alongside Dream of Me. A group of four made up the leading group, then it was a break of nearly five lengths back to Rated R Superstar. Awesome Banner moved out to a one-length lead by the quarter-mile mark, covering that fraction in :22.37 while appearing relaxed under Tyler Gaffalione. He marked the half-mile in :44.59 while maintaining that lead, as Discreet Angel made a run at him from third.
Rated R Superstar made his move at the five-sixteenths pole, ranging up within six lengths of the leading Awesome Banner. Though Awesome Banner dispatched his nearby rivals by the top of the lane, managing a three-length lead, Rated R Superstar was flying four-wide around the turn. Awesome Banner appeared to grow bored alone on the lead with a sixteenth a mile left to run, allowing Rated R Superstar, still in the very center of the racetrack, to run him down and win by three-quarters of a length. Once Awesome Banner saw that he had company, the colt tried to re-engage, but the wire crossed overhead and he was relegated to second. Bullet Gone Astray finished third, and Dream of Me was fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by Thorndale Stable, Rated R Superstar had been trying two-turn races for several starts. When dialed back to 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill in an allowance race, the colt was a willing 1 1/4-length winner despite some heavy bumping in the race. Over the course of his career, Rated R Superstar has collected a record of 3-4-2 from 11 starts, with over $260,000 in earnings.
“It was thrilling,” said McPeek. “This is a horse that always showed talent. He ran respectable in some of those big races last year as a 2-year-old. It seemed like he couldn't get over the hump in them and we decided to shorten him up. He has pedigree that says sprint. He's a good, handy horse. The King's Bishop [Grade 1, Saratoga, Aug. 27] is next.”
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