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Justin Phillip Prevails in Count Fleet

Justin Phillip, piloted by Ramon Dominguez, wins the 2011 Woody Stevens at Belmont.

Justin Phillip came from off the pace to prevail in the 40th running of the $250,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). The victory was the second straight over the track and the first stakes score of the year from the Zayat Stables’ color bearer.

“The key was getting this horse the win last time. He walked over like a winner today,” said trainer Steve Asmussen, who wrapped his third consecutive leading trainer title at Oaklawn. “It's been a great meet.”

Justin Phillip, a 5-year-old son of First Samurai out of the Cryptoclearance mare Ava Knows the Code, stepped the six furlongs in 1:09.63 on a fast track under 19-year-old rider Ricardo Santana Jr. while Pico’s Pride was ¾ lengths back. Gentlemen’s Bet, who had been undefeated in three starts, was another two lengths back.

The win was the first stakes victory for Santana, who topped the jockey standings at the meet for the first time. “This is a thrill. This is the biggest win of my career,” he said. “I'm so happy Steve had the confidence in me.”

Justin Phillip paid $4.40, $3.20 and $2.80 as the even-money favorite in the field of eight horses three and older. He has now won six of 26 starts and upped his earnings to $782,162.

In in other stakes action, Get Happy Mister broke on top and never looked back as he posted a front-running victory in the 16th running of the $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes for 3-year-olds.

The Colorado-bred son of First Samurai out of the Elusive Quality mare Sara Margaret, who was being stretched out from his win in the six furlong $60,000 Gazebo Stakes here on March 29, set splits of :23.78, :47.2, and 1:12.34 before finishing up in 1:25.38 for the mile on a fast track.

“He ran a huge race,” said winning trainer Kelly Von Hemel. “That was our plan going in to get to the lead and set nice, easy fractions. He’s a big, long striding colt and we wanted to run him at the mile because we felt all along that was his best distance. He’s been training great since his last race and this is what we expected.”

Get Happy Mister paid $16.20, $6.80 and $4.60. Looking Cool, the 8-5 favorite in the field of 10, was 2 ½ lengths behind and Red Wings was another 4 ½ lengths back in third.

Get Happy Mister, ridden by Glenn Corbett, now has five wins in six starts and upped his bankroll to $171,421.



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