Jockey Corey Lanerie piloted the 3-2 post-time favorite Gray Magician to just his second career victory in 11 starts.
The 3-year-old Graydar son covered a mile over Ellis Park’s main track in 1:36.19, paying $5 to win.
Knicks Go, who won Keeneland’s Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity last fall at 2, broke to the lead Sunday from the outside No. 10 post. He set fractions of :24.17 and :47.03 while Gray Magician stalked in second.
Gray Magician pulled up to the outside of Knicks Go entering the stretch. Those two raced side-by-side several lengths clear of the field, with Gray Magician prevailing at the wire by a neck.
Night Ops came up to finish third ahead of fourth-place Harvey Wallbanger, a Grade 2 winner.
Peter Miller trains the Kentucky-bred Gray Magician, who is campaigned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable.
“To be honest, I almost underestimated the horse on the lead. Coming to the quarter pole, I’m taking a peek back looking for closers and almost sat a little too long and gave him a little bit of a run in front of me. It took all I had to get by him. But my horse, he just prevailed and was the best horse today. Peter Miller and his crew had him ready. I’m glad I didn’t mess it up.”
Gray Magician needed four tries before finally breaking his maiden last November at Del Mar. From there, he earned a Kentucky Derby bid by running second March 30 at Meydan Racecourse in the UAE Derby.
In the Kentucky Derby, Gray Magician never advanced into the top half of the field and was finished by the quarter pole. He came home 19th of 19.
Gray Magician showed better form July 13 in the Indiana Derby (G3), finishing in second only 1 ½ lengths back of four-time Grade 3 winner Mr. Money at Indiana Grand.