Crystal Racing Enterprises and Cipriano Contreras' Rated R Superstar, claimed for $62,500 at Churchill Downs in November, jumped up to win this Saturday's $350,000 Essex Handicap at 14-1, defeating 5-1 chance Snapper Sinclair by a head in a photo finish. The 6-year-old son of Kodiak Kowboy, ridden by Walter De La Cruz for conditioner Contreras, covered 1 1/16 miles over Oaklawn's fast main track in 1:42.66. The 8-5 post-time favorite Giant Expectations finished another length back in third.
Bred in Kentucky by Thorndale Stable, Rated R Superstar had not seen the winner's circle since April of 2018. Over his career, the gelding has amassed a record of 6-5-6 from 33 starts for earnings of nearly $800,000.
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