Showing an affinity for soft ground, Takeover Target went head to head with Vision Perfect and railed in the stretch and pulled clear to win the Grade 3 $500,000 Hill Prince for 3-year olds on the Super undercard at Belmont Park.
Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Takeover Target settled in mid pack behind leaders Vision Perfect and Winter Springs as they led the field through an opening quarter-mile in a mild 25.18 seconds, with the half in 50.82 over the soggy going. Riding the hedge around the far turn, Takeover Target steadily improved his position as the mile went inseconds. Threading his way through horses into the stretch, Takeover Target came up to challenge frontrunner Vision Perfect as the two battled to the wire. Digging in in the final yards, the Klaravich Stables color-bearer took off for the wire to draw clear 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Vision Perfect.
"My horse broke good, and I went right to the rail at the first turn, said Ortiz. "I tried to save every inch of the ground, and it worked out great. The trip worked out great and getting to the three-sixteenths pole and then at the quarter-pole I got the opportunity to come out and it worked out perfect. He couldn't be better."
Takeover Target's winning time for the 1 1/8 mile distance was
"It all worked out well," said trainer Chad Brown. "I thought Jose [Ortiz] rode a terrific race. He really gave him a beautiful trip and the horse responded. He's a really quality horse. The first time we ran him he ran well over yielding ground right here at Belmont, so we were confident he'd be able to handle it. His last race was disappointing. He was training so well going into the Saranac and he just didn't fire. In hindsight, he might have bounced a little bit out of the Hall of Fame win. He had a little time to recover for this race, got soft ground and a great trip. It all came together for this horse today."
The victory was the second stakes win in three starts for the bay son of Harlan's Holiday who entered the Hill Prince off a disappointing sixth place finish in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga Race Course. His record stands now stands at 4-1-0 from seven lifetime starts.
Sent off at 5-1, Takeover Target returned $12.00 for a $2 win wager. With the winner's purse of $300,000 his lifetime earnings pass the half-million dollar mark and stand at $603,200 for Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence.
Vision Perfect was three lengths ahead of third-place finisher Great Dancer. World Approval was fourth, and Jay Gatsby, Royal Albert Hall, Money Multiplier, favored Tale of Life, Macher, Winter Springs and Courtier completed the order of finish.
Nonna's Boy and main-track only entrant Good Luck Gus were scratched.
Source: NYRA Communications (Jeanne Schnell)