Strong Hope won wire-to-wire in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park.
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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.
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