Long On Value, ridden by Florent Geroux, tracked down a game Lady Alexandra here in Saturday’s Highlander Stakes, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, on the Queen’s Plate undercard.
Now a Grade 1 feature, the Highlander drew nine starters for the $251,000 six-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.
With his win today, Long On Value earned an all-fee’s paid in berth in this year’s edition of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs. The horse is not Breeders’ Cup eligible, however, and would have to be supplemented at a cost of $100,000.
Axtell and Corinthia Knight went hoof-to-hoof early in the Highlander, the pair dueling through early splits of :22.44 and :43.55. Long On Value, who finished third in the 2017 Woodbine Mile after a troubled trip, was in need of running room turning for home.
As the field straightened out for the run down the long E.P. Taylor Turf stretch, Geroux worked feverishly to find a seam with the Virginia-bred. After finally finding room, Long On Value had one more obstacle to overcome in the form of Lady Alexandra.
At the wire, Long On Value eked out a neck win. Lady Alexandra was 1 ½-lengths ahead of third-place finisher Holding Gold.
The final time for the sprint was 1:07.13.
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It was the ninth career victory from 32 starts for the seven-year-old son of Value Plus, who came into the Highlander off a stakes triumph in the Mighty Beau overnight stakes at Churchill Downs on June 2.
The Virginia-bred was a $100,00 purchase at last year’s November horses of racing age at Keeneland.
For Brad Cox, it was his second straight victory in the Highlander. Last year, he won with Green Mask.
2018 Highlander Replay
The Highlander now fronts a three-race turf series at Woodbine with the overall winning trainer earning $10,000 and the owner picking up $15,000. Points are awarded on a 10-7-5-3-2 basis for the top five finishers with other entrants getting 1 point.
The August 25 Play the King, at seven furlongs, and the October 13 Nearctic, at six furlongs, are the other races in the series. Both are Grade 2 races with the Play the King worth $175,000 and the Nearctic $250,000.
Long On Value returned $6.70, $3.70 and $2.80 and led a 6-5 exactor with Lady Alexandra ($6.90, $4.20) worth $44.10. A 6-5-4 trifecta with Holding Gold ($3.10) paid $118.60. A 6-5-4-9 superfecta capped by Abbaa was worth $896.75 for $1.