Harpers First Ride rolled through the stretch to a three-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Richard W. Small at Laurel Park, giving the 4-year-old son of Paynter three stakes wins in his last four starts.
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Winner of the Pimlico Special (G3) in early October, Harpers First Ride has an excellent 9-2-1 record in 16 lifetime starts and earnings of $513,055 for MCA Racing Stable LLC. He is one of eight stakes winners this year for Paynter, who leads the Fourth-Crop sire list in several categories and got his first Breeders' Cup winner this year when Knicks Go won the Dirt Mile (G1).
Harpers First Ride sat a few lengths off the pace through the early stages of Saturday's 1 1/16-mile contest before making a bold four-wide move on the final bend. He swept to the lead at the top of the stretch and drew away to win with authority.
Harpers First Ride completed the distance in 1:41.92 over a fast main track.
“We knew there a couple horses that had a lot of speed and my horse is just a game horse and he’s even, he doesn’t have that much speed. But he broke good and I sent him and he sat behind the pace. He just relaxed for me and on the far turn, I had a lot of horse,” jockey Angel Cruz said. “When I tapped him he responded to me. I had tons of horse. He ran his heart out today.”
The winner was bred by Sagamore Farm.