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Oct 26, 2012

Hymn Book likes the slop to win Belmont Park stakes


Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - A sloppy racetrack proved to Hymn Book's liking Friday as the gelding cruised to victory in the $85,000 Frank "Pancho" Martin Stakes at Belmont Park. The 6-year-old covered the 1 1/16-miles on a sloppy track in 1:43.31.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Hymn Book broke sharply from the gate in the four- horse field but was taken back as the field went up the backstretch. Setting the pace was Xin Xu Lin with Rule running second and Small Town Talk in third.

On the final turn, Rule, ridden by John Velazquez, assumed the lead as Hymn Book gained ground from the rear. Rule had the lead entering the stretch with Small Town Talk in second and Hymn Book on the outside joining the leaders.

Trained by Shug McGaughey, Hymn Book went to the lead in mid-stretch and drove to a 5 3/4 length victory through the rain. Small Town Talk finished second followed by Rule and Xin Xu Lin. Scratched from the race were Ponzi Scheme and Isn't He Perfect.

Hymn Book, owned by Stuart Janney III, notched his first win since claiming the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 11. Friday's victory was worth $51,000 to push the 6-year-old's earnings to $792,687. Hymn Book registered his eighth career win in 20 starts.

Racing against the top handicap horses this year, the gelding followed his Donn Handicap win with a fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap, fifth in the Pimlico Special, second to Mucho Macho Man in the Suburban and fourth in the Whitney. He was coming off an eighth-place result in the Jockey Club Gold Cup behind Flat Out.

Hymn Book returned $3.50 and $2.30, and Small Town Talk paid $3.80 for place. There was no show wagering.

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