Takeover Target prevails in Hill Prince
Whether it was the soft turf or some other factor, Takeover Target got back to his winning ways when rallying for a 1 3/4-length triumph over pacesetter Vision Perfect, who was the second longest shot on the board at 23-1.
Vision Perfect nearly pulled off the upset, quickly taking command and setting splits of :25.18, :50.82 and 1:15.20. All the while, the dark bay sophomore was fighting off repeated challenges from Winter Springs to his outside.
Takeover Target, meanwhile, was biding his time in midpack before finally beginning to pick off rivals entering the final turn. The Kentucky-bred maintained his inside path before angling over to split Vision Perfect and Jay Gatsby, who had moved up outside the leader after Winter Springs began fading.
Jay Gatsby didn’t last long, leaving Vision Perfect and Takeover Target to duke it out in the lane. Takeover Target began inching away late and continued on to post a final time of 1:51.42 for 1 1/8 miles over the soft sod.
Vision Perfect was best of the rest, three lengths up on 18-1 shot Great Dancer. Tale of Life, the near 3-1 favorite, finishing eighth after running in last for the opening three-quarters.
Takeover Target was making just his seventh lifetime start in the Hill Prince and earned his second stakes score. After breaking his maiden and taking an allowance/optional claimer, the sophomore just missed by a neck in his stakes debut, the Pennine Ridge S., over the same inner turf as Saturday’s race.
He was fifth next out in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) before breaking through with his first black-type credit in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame S. (G2) on August 7 at Saratoga. Campaigned by Klaravich Stables Inc. and William H. Lawrence, Takeover Target threw in a subpar sixth in the Saranac on September 5 but regained the winning thread in time for the Hill Prince.
Takeover Target photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography
HILL PRINCE QUOTES
Chad Brown, winning trainer of Takeover Target: "It all worked out well. I thought Jose (Ortiz) rode a terrific race. He really gave him a beautiful trip and the horse responded.
“He's a really quality horse. The first time we ran him he ran well over yielding ground right here at Belmont, so we were confident he'd be able to handle it.
“His last race was disappointing. He was training so well going into the Saranac and he just didn't fire. In hindsight, he might have bounced a little bit out of the Hall of Fame win. He had a little time to recover for this race, got soft ground and a great trip. It all came together for this horse today."
Jose Ortiz, winning jockey aboard Takeover Target: "My horse broke good and I went right to the rail at the first turn. I tried to save every inch of ground, and it worked out great. The trip worked out great and getting to the quarter-pole I got the opportunity to come out and it worked out perfect. He couldn't be better."