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Jun 22, 2012

Ron the Greek surges to victory in Foster Handicap


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron the Greek put on a late rally to catch and pass favored Wise Dan Saturday night in winning the $400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. Ridden by Jose Lezcano, the five-year-old covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.51 on a fast track.

Wise Dan went off as the 9-10 favorite in the eight horse field. He broke sharply and pressed the pace that was being set by Nates Mineshaft. Ron the Greek raced in sixth and seventh through much of the race.

Nates Mineshaft, ridden by Miguel Mena, had the lead through the final turn and into the stretch with Wise Dan and jockey John Velazquez still in second. Fading as the field turned for home was 7-1 third choice Fort Larned.

Wise Dan took the lead with less than a 200 yards to go as Nates Mineshaft dropped back. Ron the Greek, trained by Bill Mott, began his rally near the inside entering the far turn and down the stretch found room along the rail to join the leaders.

Ron the Greek, 9-1 at post-time, caught Wise Dan right before the wire and was able to post a head victory. Nates Mineshaft held on for third followed by Rogue Romance, Alternation, Nehro, Mission Impazible and Fort Larned.

The win puts Ron the Greek into the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita. The Foster is part of the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" program.

Owned by Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable and Jack Hammer, Ron the Greek picks up $262,932 with the win to put his career earnings at better than $1.1 million with seven wins in 19 starts.

Ron the Greek was coming off a second-place finish to Alternation in the Oaklawn Handicap on April 14. He began 2012 with another runner-up finish to Mucho Macho Man in the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park.

Ron the Greek returned $20.80, $6.40 and $5.40. Wise Dan paid $3.00 and $2.80, and Nates Mineshaft paid $8.00 to show.

Bill Mott also had the winner right before the Foster with champion filly Royal Delta easily winning the $150,000 Fleur de Lis. The 2011 Eclipse Award winner notched an eight length win over Afleeting Lady.

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, Royal Delta took the lead on the final turn and ran away from the competition to stop the timer at 1:49.49 for 1 1/8 miles.

"The (Fleur de Lis) wasn't something that was planned right after the World Cup, but it's something we came up with a couple of weeks ago," Mott said.

Royal Delta finished ninth in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in late March. She was second to Awesome Maria in her four-year-old debut in the Sabin at Gulfstream.

Winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, Royal Delta adds $99,251 to her earnings which now stand at more than $1.8 million for owner Besilu Stables.

Royal Delta paid $3.20, $2.60 and $2.10. Afleeting Lady returned $3.80 and $2.60, and St. John's River paid $2.20 to show.

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