First Sargeant Double Times it Late to Capture G2 OP Handicap

The 17th Running of the G2 OP Handicap

Saturday, April 23, 2022

OP Race #2 Post Time 18:45

$1,000.000 11/8 Dirt

4+ Handicap Weights (117-121 Pounds)

Track/Stakes Record-1:46.45 (Obvious Intention-2008)

First Sargeant displayed a new dimension to his game and utilized an explosive turn of foot to run by the majority of the field to take the $1,000.000 G2 OP Handicap on Saturday.  After being within a length of the lead at every point of call in his two prior dirt races this season, First Sargeant found himself some ten lengths off of the early pace set by Charleys Latte before unleashing a sustained burst to hit the wire in 1:48.06 and a neck in front of Sports Page.  With the victory, the High Voltage-trainee now has five wins from 19 starts and earnings of $814.060 as well as eight points toward G1 BC Classic qualification.

When the gates sprang open, Hint Of Sugar burst from stall 11 and tried to clear the ten runners to his inside.  On his outside, from stall fourteen, Charleys Latte was intent on clearing traffic as well.  This dynamic insured that the pace would be hot early and while Hint Of Sugar was leading after a quarter-mile, it was Charleys Latte who posted the opening half in a scalding :45.21.  Hint Of Sugar took back to run in the second flight inside of Locamotive and Rebel Storm as that trio raced just two lengths off of the leader.  There was a wide gap back to the fifth place horse, Sports Page, as that runner was some seven lengths off of Charleys Latte.  First Sargeant, meanwhile, was another three lengths behind and in foreign territory as he raced in 10th.

Having run so hard to secure the lead, Charleys Latte continued dragging the field through blazing fractions as he posted a 1:09.05 six-furlong split.  Locamotive moved to engage the leader at that point and he was pushed into the three-path as Hint Of Sugar came back for more as well.  Rebel Storm was beginning to labor as he was caught widest of the quartet battling on the front end.  Sports Page was a solo fifth while still five or six lengths back and First Sargeant had nine horses to pass and nine lengths to make up with three furlongs to run.

Charleys Latte was proving to be a difficult horse to pass as Locamotive moved well out to the center of the track as they entered the stretch, but he was struggling to go by.  As those two eyeballed each other, the back runners were beginning to close in and Sports Page looked to be the first to join the fray but King Que Niagra, Safer Dab, and First Sargeant were all gobbling up the OP track with every stride.  Locamotive finally got his nose in front and posted a 1:34.59 mile, but he looked to be getting leg weary.

Locamotive was out in about the seven-path as Sports Page advanced in earnest from the four-path and Safer Dab attacked widest of all about 10 paths off of the rail.  For a brief second, it looked like First Sargeant was going to encounter some traffic; however, Hint Of Sugar stopped drifting out at just the right time as the M. Franco-ridden 5yo got the seam he desperately needed.  First Sargeant took advantage and passed Locamotive in tandem with Sports Page inside the final sixteenth.  Sports Page couldn’t match the winner’s late burst through the wire and had to settle for the place just a head in front of Safer Dab as the latter just got by Locamotive to secure the show.  Completing the order of finish were Charleys Latte, Champion In Action, Hint Of Sugar, King Que Niagra, Rebel Storm, Expert Eye, Pier Pressure, Sexy Back, Higher Drift, and Quick Response.

Congratulations to First Sargeant and High Voltage on winning the G2 OP Handicap and good luck to all of the runners going forward.



Categories: Grade II, Races, STAKES ARTICLES

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