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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Hess Loses Royal Import Again

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Trainer Bob Hess, Jr., said Royal Import had become a “barn favorite” having been a stable newcomer as a 2-year-old and being claimed away and reclaimed over much of the 5-year-old gelding’s racing career.

But when Royal Import left once again after Sunday’s fifth race, claimed by trainer Vann Belvoir for $10,000 for the Horseplayers Racing Club ownership group, he presented a nice parting gift in a Polytrack record 1:50.58 for 1 1/8 miles in a winning effort.

“It’s sad to lose him, but it was fun to see him run like that,” Hess said. “The time was kind of a surprise and I was surprised that nobody had run faster than that before. But he loves Del Mar (2-3-2 results in seven starts) and it brings out the best in him.”

The previous record was 1:50.75. Royal Import rallied from seventh in a field of nine to win by a head.

“I knew he was going to make a good charge at it,” said jockey Aaron Gryder. “I knew he’d do his best running the last three-sixteenths and he took me everywhere I needed to go.”

Hess has 25 horses at Del Mar, another string of 15 based on the East Coast, in New York and/or Florida.

“During Del Mar I don’t like (the commuting),” Hess said. “The rest of the year, it’s not so bad.”

 

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