Harpers First Ride turned back a stiff challenge from Owendale to win Friday's $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) by two lengths, giving the 4-year-old son of Paynter his first graded stakes victory.
The dark bay is one of six stakes winners this year by Paynter, who leads all Fourth-Crop sires with 15 stakes horses and 133 individual winners and is second by progeny earnings with over $4.1 million.
Coming into the Special off a win in Pimlico's Deputed Testamony S. on Sept. 5, Harpers First Ride was hustled out of the gate and took a narrow lead over Owendale into the first turn. The two were virtually inseparable for the first mile, with Harpers First Ride getting the best of his foe in the stretch and finishing the 1 3/16-miles on the fast track in 1:54.97 under a jubilant Angel Cruz.
"I feel so happy and blessed," Cruz said. "I took the lead really easy and slowed it down. Nobody wanted to go."
Harpers First Ride upped his record to an excellent 8-1-1 from 14 starts and earnings to $422,080 for owner MCA Racing Stable LLC.
The winner was bred in Maryland by Sagamore Farm and is out of the Real Quiet mare Polyester, whose half-sister Sneaky Quiet was a two-time stakes winner and placed in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).