Bold Hawk, a well-bred, gelded son of the great race mare Tribulation, received a ground-saving trip under veteran jockey Jean Luc Samyn, split horses in mid-stretch and just prevailed over a game Twilight Meteor in Saturday's 43rd running of the Grade 3, Hawthorne Derby at Hawthorne Race Course.
The 1-mile race for 3-year-olds, run on the turf course, offered a guaranteed purse of $250,000.
Samyn attributed some early planning as a key to Bold Hawk's success.
"I walked the course this morning, and I knew what spot I wanted to be in. I knew that the inside appeared to be the best place," the New York based jockey said. "Plus, I didn't want to move too early so he would get the lead and loaf around."
The pace was quick as the 11-horse field made its way to the quarter in :22.41. Voy Por Uno Mas led the way as they reached the half in :46.44. As the sophomores made their way around the far turn, Twilight Meteor, Summer Doldrums and the eventual winner, all seemed to be in position, but Twilght Meteor might have hesitated just a split second under jockey Chris DeCarlo, while Bold Hawk found a seam between horses.
"They split, but once I got in there they came together," DeCarlo said. "I had to not steady him … but it slowed his momentum down. The winner had a clear trip. He was laboring a little bit down the lane. He struggled a little with the going."
The two battled right down to the wire with Bold Hawk just getting a head up, stopping the clock in 1:47.55. It was only the third lifetime win for the James Toner-trained Bold Hawk and it pushed his earnings to $213,376.
"Today was the day the Queen Elizabeth was run," Samyn said. "I won the Queen Elizabeth with Tribulation, so that makes this win with her son even more special."
It was ¾ length back to the third-place finisher Western Prize. Voy Por Uno Mas held well for fourth, while second wagering choice Summer Doldroms, made a bold move at the top of the stretch, but flattened out late to be a disappointing sixth.
Western Prize broke down past the wire and was euthanized.
Bold Hawk returned $10.00 $4.80 and $3.40. Twilight Meteor paid $3.20 and $2.80. and Western Prize returned $8.00 to show.