July 22, 2015
There were a number of good horses in the Grade II Nijinsky Stakes at WO on Sunday afternoon but only one Grade I winner and as expected, that class edge took Sri Lanka all the way to the top as the six-year-old beat his rivals on the square by a neck, doing so in near track record time. After even efforts on the lead in races like the Muniz Memorial and Dixie, he took an off-the-pace approach and it paid off handsomely with his fifth win since being claimed and fourth career triple-digit speed rating, this time a 101-mark in what might be his best effort to date.
Wincrea (*2.05) broke like a rocket from his outside stall and quickly took command of the Nijinsky field, leading by nearly a length in the opening furlong from Carnage (44.05) inside and Sri Lanka (4.50) from midpack. As the field sorted themselves out, everyone was able to find a comfortable spot up front, apart from Uphone (2.55) and March Madness (8.30) who dropped to the back of the eight-horse field. A line of three was established behind leader Wincrea with Sri Lanka wide and Chasing The Ride (92.50) sneaking up the fence but the hulking backstretch of WO allowed everyone to settle, despite a torrid half-mile in 46.88. As Chasing The Ride started to retreat, Carnage looked like a danger between rivals with I Am Dionysus (5.05) looming from just in behind and around the sweeping final turn, it was left to any of the front five to separate themselves turning for home. Through six-furlongs in 1:10-flat, it looked like the fractions were starting to wear down Wincrea and while Carnage angled inside, Sri Lanka had a clear shot two-wide and pounced, getting the jump on I Am Dionysus to engage the leader at the head of the lane. Wincrea was absolutely resolute on the lead as the backfield made steady progress but the rate of speed made the finish line come up too quickly for many and in the end, Sri Lanka was able to just hold on for the win by a neck over I Am Dionysus, with Carnage a tough third and Wincrea a close but hard-luck fourth. Uphone came with a minor late run into midpack, March Madness was wide and unable to close, Danzing By The Bay (10.65) never got involved and Chasing A Ride close early but unable to hold on in the late stages.
Since being claimed for $35.000 and being put onto the turf exclusively, Sri Lanka has turned into a legitimate turf contender and returned to the winner’s circle on Sunday with a powerful score in the Grade II Nijinsky Stakes. The problem for him will be the distance since nine-furlongs seems to be his ideal mark, so a race like the Cliff Hanger at MTH might be his best option, as races like the Sword Dancer or Kentucky Cup Turf might just be too long.
Congratulations goes out to owner Axeman and their six-year-old gelding Sri Lanka, a last gasp winner of the Grade II Nijinsky Stakes at WO!
Winner Sri Lanka
Six-year-old chestnut gelding
Utica Moon-Bombay Squaw (Bombay Moon)
Time 46.88, 1:10.00, 1:33.55, 1:45.49
Sri Lanka 4.50 sat perfectly, pounced, just up
I Am Dionysus 5.05 wide trip, sharp into lane, close second
Carnage 44.05 held well late, missed second
Wincrea *2.05 set pace, weakened in final furlong
Uphone 2.55 back early, minor rally
March Madness 8.30 no late factor
Danzing By The Bay 10.65 outrun
Chasing A Ride 92.50 stalked, faded
Triple T Racing 🙂
Categories: Grade II