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Sharp Return for Graydar in Kelso

Off a nearly six-month layoff, odds-on favorite Graydar returned to the races sharp as ever, winning the Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Invitational Handicap by three-quarters of a length in front-running fashion at Belmont Park.


The 4-year-old will make his next start in either the Breeders' Cup Classic or Breeders' Cup Mile the first weekend of November.


Brazilian-bred longshot Brujo de Olleros made a late charge to finish second, a neck in front of Hymn Book in third.


Graydar, under Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, got away quickly to establish a clear early lead. The gray son of Unbridled's Song held that position through fractions of 23.41, 47.11 and 1:10.47.


Souper Speedy tracked in second into the stretch before giving way just as Brujo de Olleros came charging. Graydar found more when challenged, though, digging in the final sixteenth to maintain his short lead and crossing the wire in 1:34.08 for the one-turn mile over a fast main track.


"He didn't break super sharp but Edgar was able to get into the position we wanted to be in and the fractions were reasonable," said trainer Todd Pletcher after winning his second graded stakes event of the afternoon. "He was able to hold off some challenges. It was good.


"We're going to the Breeders' Cup but I don't know that we've decided which race just yet. We've got plenty of time to sort it out."


Graydar, owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stable, increased his career earnings to $841,560 with his fifth win from six starts. He had scored major victories in the Grade 1 Donn and Grade 2 New Orleans handicaps early this year before undergoing surgery to remove a chip in his left-front ankle.


"He broke a little slow and then I put him in the race," Prado said. "After that he was pretty much in command. When the runner-up came up alongside him he picked it up and he finished strong."


Graydar returned $3.80, $3.10 and $2.30. Beyond Brujo de Olleros and Hymn Book, the order of finish was completed by Souper Speedy, Easter Gift, Praetereo and Jackson Bend.




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