The Player scores an upset in Keeneland's Fayette Stakes 2017
October 28, 2017 12:38pm
The Player scores an upset in Keeneland's Fayette Stakes 2017
Photo: Nedim Slijepcevic

Battling beside a horse with Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders Arrogate and Gun Runner in his recent past performances, The Player didn't back down.

At 8-1 odds, he went by Neolithic in mid-stretch Saturday to score an upset in Keeneland’s Grade 2, $200,000 Hagyard Fayette Stakes.

Guided by jockey Calvin Borel, who notched just his second win of the meet on its final day, The Player finished 1 1/8 miles on a sloppy track in 1:48.16 after stalking Neolithic throughout.

"I knew I had a lot of pony when I looked under my arm," Borel said of the final strides. "...If I could just get him to go on and finish, I knew he could run. I was maybe a little scared of the mile and an eighth, but he showed us today he could do it."

It was a ways back to 3-year-old McCraken for 3rd while Honorable Duty, the 7-5 favorite, missed the board.

This one had special meaning to trainer Buff Bradley, who owns the chestnut colt with Carl Hurst. The Player was one of the final horses bred in part with Bradley's father, Fred, before his death.

"Calvin rode him perfectly and, really, turning for home we thought we were going to win it," Bradley said.

The Player chased Neolithic through opening fractions of 24.22 for the quarter and 47.47 for the half mile. The pair distanced from the rest of the pack, which ran four-wide into the stretch, and Neolithic backed down with a sixteenth to run.

No, Borel didn't hug the rail this time. The Player went by on the outside of Neolithic, who this year has run third to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup and ran 3rd again racing Gun Runner in Saratoga's Grade 1 Woodward.

A 4-year-old son of Street Hero, The Player scored his first graded stakes victory Saturday, his fourth win overall in 10 career starts. He returned $19.60.


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