Photo: NYRA Photo
Hangover Kid became a graded stakes winner on Saturday at Belmont Park when he took the Grade 2, $200,000 Bowling Green Handicap in a photo over odds-on favorite Grandeur.
Jockey Jose Lezcano, who a week earlier won three graded stakes in a row on Stars & Stripes Day, delivered another sensational ride aboard Hangover Kid, piloting the 6-year-old horse to a narrow victory in the 1 ½-mile turf marathon.
Hangover Kid, trained by Jason Servis for Four Tags Stable, tracked the tepid pace set by 18-1 longshot Horvat Clan along the rail. As the field ambled along through fractions of 25.63 seconds for an opening quarter-mile, 51.93 for a half, 1:17.53 for three-quarters and 1:42.03 for a mile, Hangover Kid and Lezcano continued to save ground on the inside.
Turning for home, the pair had nowhere to run. Lezcano continued to bide his time behind a wall of horses, until a seam opened up in midstretch, and the pair shot through to confront Grandeur, who had mounted a three-wide rally to take the lead.
Hangover Kid and Grandeur continued to exchange blows all the way to the finish, with Hangover Kid proving best by a head on the line.
"It was thrilling," said Servis, by telephone. "I wish I could have been there. I felt really good having Lezcano on him; he's been riding unbelievable. The only thing I told him is ride him like you own him."
Hangover Kid, who boosted his career earnings to $625,203 with his Bowling Green win, may be Breeders' Cup bound, according to Servis.
"We'd like to go to the Breeders' Cup with him," said the trainer. "This race - being a graded stakes - got him points. I don't know where he'll go next, but the Breeders' Cup is the ultimate goal."
Hangover Kid completed the distance in 2:28.18 and returned $11.40 on a $2 win bet.
Behind Grandeur, it was another ¾ lengths back to Sky Blazer, who mounted a strong late rally to get third.
Boisterous, Reflecting, and Horvat Clan rounded out the order of finish.