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July 6th Stakes Results

Strong Hope won wire-to-wire in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park.
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Date: 07/06/03

The Independence Day weekend racing wrapped up today with two more graded stakes, one at Belmont and another at Churchill Downs. First up was the Grade 2, $150,000 Dwyer Stakes for three-year-olds at Belmont Park. Eugene and Laura Melnyk's Strong Hope scored a front-running victory and held off runner-up Nacheezmo to win by a neck, covering the mile and a sixteenth in 1:41 3/5. "Watching the other races unfold today, the track wasn't kind toward speed necessarily," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "It wasn't biased, but it wasn't one of those speed-carrying tracks. We knew he was going to show speed and we wanted to slow him down as much as we could. He broke pretty relaxed and the first quarter was decent. He was pretty strong the second quarter and the three-quarters time was exceptional. On the middle of the turn, you could see Nacheezmo revving up pretty strong. I knew Strong Hope would have to produce a pretty strong effort to hold him off and he was able to pull it off." The Dwyer featured the long-awaited return of John Oxley's Sky Mesa, undefeated as a two-year-old. The son of Pulpit wrenched his ankle hours before he was scheduled to run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and has been sidelined since. Sky Mesa stalked the pace in the Dwyer and held on to finish third. "I was pleased," said Sky Mesa's trainer John Ward Jr. "Anytime you have a horse coming back running the first three-quarters in nine (1:09), and he's right there, I'm happy."

Limehouse winning the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs.
At Churchill Downs, six two-year-old colts faced the starter in the Grade 3, $162,750 Bashford Manor Stakes over 6 furlongs on the main track. Robby Albarado aboard 3-1 second choice Limehouse stalked the pace to the inside early, then angling four wide entering the stretch, drove well clear of 42-1 longshot First Money to win by 4 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:10.62 over the fast track. It was another two lengths back to 1-2 favorite Cuvee, who suffered a rough race where he grazed the rail at the half mile pole. Albarado said afterward, "I moved him out and hand-rode him to the lead and when I hit him once or twice he just went on. He's a nice colt. With his running style I think he's going to get better and nothing fazes him. He runs into tight spots. He's like a horse that's run 10 or 12 times already." Owner Cothran Campbell representing Dogwood Stable added, "That was impressive today. He's done everything right. We didn't think he was the best two-year-old when we shipped them out of Aiken, S.C. (Dogwood's training facility). I love running two-year-olds and this one seems precocious. This horse has a nice pedigree and has the ingredients to be a nice horse. This horse has come from off the pace and we thought this race could set up nice for him. We'll run him next in the Saratoga Special (on August 13)." More

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