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Feb 06, 2015

Lea set to defend title in Donn Handicap


Hallandale Beach, FL ( - Defending race winner Lea will take on nine challengers as the 6-year-old goes for a second straight victory in Saturday's $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Joel Rosario, Lea defeated Will Take Charge in last year's Donn and set a track record in what proved to be his last start of 2014. Lea stopped the timer at 1:46.86 to set a new track record for 1 1/8 miles.

For Saturday, Lea is the 9-5 morning line favorite and will start from post 4 in the 10-horse field with Rosario again riding

Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Lea has already duplicated last year's start by winning a second straight Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream. The 6-year-old was the even-money favorite for the mile race with just five in the field.

"I'd say, he's probably coming into the Donn the same as he was last year," Mott said. "He's coming off a good race and I'm happy with him. He's good enough to be in the race, but I can't predict the outcome."

The Hal's Hope was his first start since being sidelined with an illness following a victory in the 2014 Donn Handicap. Lea is working on a three-race win streak and has career earnings of $802,618 with seven wins in 13 starts.

"He had been sick. He had a virus and it was a case where he had done enough. He was a Grade 1 winner, and he could have gone to the breeding shed. They opted to give him this chance right here. I told them what the condition of the horse was and how he was doing," Mott said. "They made the decision. I told them step by step on a daily and weekly basis the condition of the horse and where we were at with him. I guess I made it sound good enough to keep him in training."

Here is the field for the 60th Donn in post position order: Constitution, Javier Castellano, 7-2; Commissioner, John Velazquez, 4-1; East Hall, Luis Saez, 15-1; Lea, Joel Rosario, 9-5; Elnaawi, Julien Leparoux, 15-1; Catholic Cowboy, Paco Lopez, 20-1; Sloane Avenue, Jose Lezcano, 15-1; Protonico, Joe Bravo, 6-1; Blue Tone, Corey Lanerie, 15-1 and Prayer for Relief, Edgard Zayas, 12-1.

The Donn will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 with an approximate post time of 5:58 p.m. ET.

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