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Feb 14, 2014

Lea holds off Will Take Charge to win Donn Handicap


Hallandale Beach, FL ( - Lea, ridden by Joel Rosario, was able to hold off a late running Will Take Charge and set a track record in winning Sunday's $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Lea was the 5-1 co-third pick in the 11- horse field with Will Take Charge the 3-2 favorite. Revolutionary was the 7-2 second choice and River Seven was also 5-1.

Lea, winner of Gulfstream's Hal's Hope Stakes last month, was right on the lead with Uncaptured as the field went up the backstretch in the 1 1/8-mile stakes. Will Take Charge was racing a handful of lengths off the pace with Revolutionary farther back in ninth.

As the field went around the final turn, Lea took over the lead as Will Take Charge began to advance from the outside. Lea had a clear lead with a furlong to run while the favorite moved into second, charging toward the front.

Will Take Charge had too much ground to make up and was unable to catch the leader. Lea, a 5-year-old chestnut horse, held on for a 1 1/2-length win over 2013's champion 3-year-old colt. The final time of 1:46.86 is a new track record for nine furlongs.

"I saw when (Will Take Charge) broke free and I knew he'd be running at us," Mott said. "We were good enough to scoot away from him. It's a long year and the big races are at the end of the year and there's a lot of good racing in between. Right now I'd love to point him for the Whitney at Saratoga."

Finishing third was 44-1 longshot Viramundo followed by Bourbon Courage, Uncaptured, Neck 'n Neck, Revolutionary, Joshua's Comprise, Macho Bull, River Seven and Romansh.

Lea, owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, recorded his biggest victory with the Donn, earning $300,000 in the process. The 5-year-old has won half of his 12 career starts and $709,618.

"Whenever you have a horse with Bill Mott, you know they're going to run well," Claiborne Farm's Dell Hancock said. "We knew he'd run well and we thought he'd get the distance because of his pedigree but for him to run like that--it's exciting."

Along with winning the Hal's Hope Stakes, Lea's only other stakes victory came in the Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs two Novembers ago.

Lea paid $13.00, $4.60 and $4.00. Will Take Charge returned $3.40 and $2.80, and Viramundo paid $11.80 to show.

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