Rockport Harbor breaking on top in the Remsen, where he stayed for the entire race.
On the undercard of the Cigar Mile were two Grade 2 events for 2-year-olds, stretching out to 1 1/8 miles. In the $200,000 Remsen Stakes, Galloping Grocer was sent off as the slight 6-5 favorite over 3-2 second choice Rockport Harbor.
When the gate opened, Stewart Elliott sent Rockport Harbor all out right away, and he got a length and a half clear, getting the initial quarter in 23.80 and the half in 47.20, before the favorite came up along the outside to challenge approaching the turn. The two favorites battled it out head to head around the turn and through the entire stretch run, but at the finish, Rockport Harbor had dug in to prevail by a neck in 1:48.88, the second-fastest Remsen at 9 furlongs. It was a long gap of 8 1/4 lengths back to 9-1 shot Killenaule in third.
Also on the card was the Demoiselle Stakes for the fillies.
Purse: $200,000 Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Rockport Harbor Elliott 4.60 2.50 2.10 6 Galloping Grocer Velazquez 2.40 2.10 4 Killenaule Bailey 2.20
Rockport Harbor in the winner's circle with trainer John Servis on the far left. Servis said, "For a two-year-old to run a mile and an eighth like that; that is a huge race. He was switching leads, and I'm sure a lot of that was due to greenness o getting tired. This will be a big boost for this horse. This was the first time he really had to dig in. That will help him a lot."
Rockport Harbor came back from the race with a bleeding right rear ankle. Trainer John Servis said, "Somebody ran up on his back end, and his back right-quarter was just hanging. This was going to be his last race until next year, anyway; the way it looks, we're probably going to have to sew it back. It was pretty nasty looking."
Rockport Harbor and Galloping Grocer battle it out down the stretch. Winning jockey Stewart Elliott said, "Galloping Grocer came up to me and I kept letting my horse out. (Galloping Grocer) was there, he was there and he wasn't going away. I had enough horse to hold him off. I think my horse had to run as hard as he had to; it's hard for me to tell whether there was more horse there because he was running enough just to stay in front. This was the first time he was hooked. He had to run and he did. So far, so good. He's done everything we've asked him to do." Asked to compare Rockport Harbor to Smarty Jones, he added, "He's got big shoes to fill."
Second place finisher and beaten favorite Galloping Grocer returns after the race. His jockey John Velazquez said, "I thought he ran a great race. He needs to learn. We've never really had to squeeze him and spank him or get serious with him. I had to get serious with him early in the race. At the 3/16 pole, I said, `Oh, I'm going to win this.' I spanked him and he switched back to his left lead. He started looking at the horse inside again. He came back, but it was too late. He just needs to learn."
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