HEAVILY FAVORED UNITED ROLLS TO 1 ½ LENGTH FRONT-RUNNING WIN IN GRADE II, $200,000 JOHN HENRY TURF CHAMPIONSHIP; MANDELLA & PRAT TEAM FOR MILE AND ONE QUARTER WIN IN 1:59.17
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2020)–With a troubled trip at Del Mar fresh on their minds, Richard Mandella and Flavien Prat decided to forego any stalk and pounce tactics and instead let their turf star United roll on the front end, which is exactly what he did en route to an impressive 1 ½ length win in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita. With the mile and one half Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf next on the agenda at Keeneland on Nov. 7, United got the mile and one quarter John Henry in 1:59.17.
With the John Henry starting gate set on the hillside turf course just above the main track crossing, United was immediately in command with his ears pricked early, setting fractions of 24.57, 49.07, 1:13.20 and 1:36.46.
With Salvator Mundi tracking in second one length off the pace to the far turn, Originaire came up the rail to challenge turning for home, but United had a two length advantage and was running powerfully.
Most recently second, beaten a head as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap Aug. 22, United, who had rattled off three consecutive graded turf stakes wins prior to that, was off as the 3-5 favorite today and paid $3.40, $2.20 and $2.10.
A 5-year-old gelding by Giant’s Causeway, United, who was second, beaten a head in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf, earned $120,000 for today’s win, hiking his bankroll to $1,413,549 while getting his fourth graded stakes win and improving his overall mark to 16-7-4-1.
Off at 7-2, Irish-bred Originaire sat mid-pack early and proved second best under Abel Cedillo. He paid $3.60 and $2.60.
Longshot Another Mystery, who followed Originaire early, was off at 61-1 and paid $7.00 to show with Drayden Van Dyke up.
Fractions on the race were 24.57, 49.07, 1:13.20 and 1:36.46.
The John Henry is named in honor of the legendary gelding who garnered seven Eclipse Awards and was voted America’s Horse of the Year in 1981 and 1984. A Kentucky-bred gelding by Ole Bob Bowers, John Henry was trained by Hall of Famer Ron McAnally and was retired at age nine in 1984.