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Prince Will I Am Takes Jamaica

Prince Will I Am picked up the first stakes victory of his career Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park, edging clear after a dramatic last-to-first run in the Grade 1, $250,000 Jamaica Handicap.


Trailing as Citrus Kid led the field of 11 through mild opening fractions of 24.93 and 50.40, Prince Will I Am was carried six wide into the stretch before chiming in with a powerful late run to seize the lead at the sixteenth pole and finish 1 ¼ lengths clear of the pacesetter.


His final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:50.04 over turf rated good.


“[The lack of pace] was just terrifying, but it was just one of those days where I woke up this morning – after two hours of sleep – and everything was going his way,” said Michelle Nihei, who collected her first graded stakes win as a trainer with the victory. “He’s not taken one step wrong. If he was going to run a huge race, it was today.”


Though Nihei said she expected the colt to be closer early in the race, she left the final decision up to jockey Jose Lezcano.


“I told Jose that I thought he should put him in the race a little bit on the backside, but I said ‘Jose, you know that turf course better than I do, so you choose.’ Jose came back and he said ‘I lost a little ground, but I felt like we could make it up and I had him close enough that I was comfortable and the horse was comfortable.’”


Among the 2010 Triple Crown hopefuls early in the year, the son of Victory Gallop made his first start on turf this summer in Saratoga, finishing third in allowance company on August 7, then overcoming major trouble to win an optional claimer on the turf closing week.


The Jamaica victory advanced the colt’s record to 3-2-1 from 10 lifetime starts with earnings of $203,090 for Casa Farms One, LLC, the nom de course of owners Clinton and Susan Atkins.


While Prince Will I Am is not nominated for the Breeders’ Cup, Nihei said a start in one of the Championship races was not out of the question.


“Mr. and Mrs. Atkins…are still looking at the Breeders’ Cup as an option. We’re looking at the mile and a half [Breeders’ Cup Turf] and we’re also looking at the Marathon for the mile and three-quarters on the dirt because he doesn’t really seem to mind surface changes.”


Prince Will I Am returned $21.60 for a $2 win bet as the 9-1 seventh choice. Beau Choix completed the trifecta, followed by Center Divider, Teaks North, Fantastico Roberto, Two Notch Road, Turf Melody, favored Krypton, Admiral Alex and Lethal Combination.



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