Photo: Coady Photography
The Todd Pletcher-trained Golden Lad easily handled his first step up all the way from the allowance ranks into graded stakes company by sitting right behind pacesetter Right to Vote, assuming command in the far turn, and then storming down the lane to win going away by 6 ¾ lengths.
Golden Lad traveled the 1 1/16 miles with Jose Lezcano aboard in 1:43.72 on a sealed track rated wet-fast while Majestic City was second, a head in front of Taptowne. Govenor Charlie, the Bob Baffert-trained 2-1 favorite in the field of seven horses 4 and older, was never a factor.
"I thought he ran super. We are very, very pleased,” said Pletcher. “I was a little concerned when the track came up wet, but he obviously handled it fine. He broke well and then got into a good stalking position. It was definitely a step up into a new level for him, but anytime you've won three straight races you certainly have talent. I felt like he deserved this opportunity and he proved he did. He ran a very powerful race.”
The win was the first stakes victory for Golden Lad, a Robsham Stables homebred by Medaglia d’Oro out of the Seeking the Gold mare Broadway Gold. He now has 5 wins and two seconds from eight starts and almost doubled his bankroll to $244,920.
Pletcher said that Golden Lad, who rewarded his backers with $12.00, $6.00, $4.20, may return for the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 12.
Right to Vote, Govenor Charlie, Called to Serve and Street Spice rounded out the field.