ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 4, 2018)–Finding his best stride late, Irish-bred River Boyne was up to win Sunday’s closing day Grade II, $200,000 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita by a half length under leading rider Flavien Prat. Trained by Jeff Mullins and owned by Red Baron’s Barn, LLC and Rancho Temescal, LLC, River Boyne got a mile and one eighth on turf in 1:46.70.
Breaking from post position eight in a field of nine, it was obvious Prat was in no hurry early as he got River Boyne to settle well off the pace in sixth as the field headed into the Club House turn.
“The way the race set up, I thought I could follow the 10 horse (Andesh), but he was done early, so I was forced to go wide,” said Prat, in reference to a sequence of events approaching the quarter pole. “When my horse can settle, he makes a big run and he did today.”
Most recently third as the even money favorite in the Grade II Del Mar Derby Sept. 2, River Boyne was off at 8-5 and paid $5.20, $3.20 and $2.60.
Winless in three starts in both Ireland and England, River Boyne, a 3-year-old colt by Dandy Man, River Boyne has now won six out of his nine starts with Mullins and today’s Twilight Derby triumph marked his second graded stakes triumph.
“Last time, he got a little rank and that didn’t help,” said Mullins. “Today, he made me a little nervous there at the end, but he was able to grind it out. Once he gets clear and he gets to his right lead, they better be runnin’ because he’s got a heckuva kick.”
With the winner’s share of $120,000, River Boyne now has earnings of $511,718 and his overall mark now stands at 12- 6-2-1.
Ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario, New York-based Have At It, a Grade II winner on Oct. 6 at Belmont Park, rallied to just touch Desert Stone for the place and paid $4.60 and $3.60 while off as the second choice at 4-1.
Irish-bred Desert Stone, the longest shot in the field with Geovanni Franco at 37-1, finished a half length clear of front-running Majestic Eagle and paid $12.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.31, 46.64, 1:10.34 and 1:34.55.
Note: With the Twilight Derby, Prat notched his second win on the day, good for 20 at the 22-day Autumn stand, two better than Rafael Bejarano’s 18.