In the Ben Ali, Rated R Superstar roared past pace-setting favorite Chip Leader in midstretch and cruised to a two-length victory in the field of seven older horses.
Trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Javier Castellano, Rated R Superstar covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:49.31. It was the fourth victory in the race for Castellano, who previously won with Wanderin Boy (2006), Exhi (2011) and Protonico (2015). It was the second win for McPeek, who scored in 2014 with Frac Daddy.
Chip Leader rocketed to the front under John Velazquez and set fractions of :24.22, :48.19 and 1:12.77 as Rated R Superstar raced at the back of the pack.
Castellano began picking off horses on the far turn, swung widest of all entering the stretch, gradually wore down Chip Leader and pulled away in the final 100 yards.
The victory was worth $120,000 and increased Rated R Superstar’s earnings to $492,154 with a record of 24-5-5-5. It was the second Grade 3 victory for Rated R Superstar, who won the Carry Back at Gulfstream Park in 2016.
Rated R Superstar is a 5-year-old gelded Kentucky-bred son of Kodiak Kowboy out of the Gold Case mare Wicked Wish.
Rated R Superstar returned $14.60, $5 and $3.40. Chip Leader returned $3.80 and $2.80 and finished 5½ lengths in front of Guest Suite, who paid $3.80 to show under Brian Hernandez Jr.
It was another two lengths back to Giuseppe the Great,who was fourth and followed in order by Aurora Way, Hollywood Handsome and Rafting.
Javier Castellano (winning rider of Rated R Superstar)
“I had a lot of confidence. We (trainer Kenny McPeek and I) spoke before the race (about the plan). I knew there wasn’t a lot of speed in the race – the only speed was the favorite.
“I’m very impressed the way he did it today. It was a slow pace and he still finished really good. I liked the way he moved turning for home, and he won very easy.”
Kenny McPeek (winning trainer)
“I thought the six horse (favored Chip Leader) was going to be the pace to the race and it looked like the others were going to contest him at some point, whether it was early or in the middle.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Paul Parker (managing partner for owner Radar Racing). We’ve been working together with this (gelding) since he was a 2-year-old; there were times we had to wait on him a little bit. His running style was kind of problematic. He actually won a nice stakes (the 2016 Carry Back-G3 at Gulfstream Park) as a 3-year-old. Paul lets us do what we have to do. It’s a lot of fun to do this for a great group of people.”
John Velazquez (rider of runner-up Chip Leader)
“We were pretty even – (:24.22, :48.19, 1:12.77) – so we were where we were supposed to be, and when I asked him he responded. The other horse just got us.”
Brian J. Hernandez Jr. (rider of third-place finisher Guest Suite)
“We had the one hole and we had a little bit of a rough trip going around the first turn. But our horse overcame it and he ran on nicely to be a good third. You have to be proud of him.”
Joel Rosario (rider of fourth-place finisher Giuseppe the Great)
“He broke well and it looked like I was going to be a little bit back in the pack, which was exactly where I ended up. He made a nice move, but it was too hard to catch the first three. The fractions weren’t very fast; it felt like he was comfortable. It looked like he wanted to run a little bit and then he went and just didn’t have it today.”
Julien Leparoux (rider of fifth-place finisher Aurora Way)
“We had a good trip. We sat in second most of the way. No real excuse – we just couldn’t kick at the end.”
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