by Keith McCalmont
ELMONT, N.Y. - Tom Mansor, Richard J. Pushor, Robert G. Roy, D. Chadwick Calvert and Jerry Caroom's Liam's Pride rallied to capture Friday's $80,000 Gold Fever, a six-furlong sprint for sophomores at Belmont Park.
Trained by Doug O'Neill with Dylan Davis aboard for the first time, Liam's Pride settled in fourth position as Wondrwherecraigis and 1-5 mutuel favorite Long Weekend battled neck and neck through swift splits of 21.65 seconds and 44.66 on the sloppy and sealed main track.
Davis urged Liam's Pride into contention through the turn and joined the pacesetters in a stretch long duel. Wondrwherecraigis, closest to the rail with Jose Lezcano up, and multiple stakes winner Long Weekend, piloted by Jose Ortiz, continued to find more as Liam's Pride powered onward outside his rivals.
Wondrwherecraigis drifted out late in the lane interfering with Long Weekend as Liam's Pride, outside and in the clear, secured a narrow head score in a final time of 1:10.70. Wondrwherecraigis crossed the wire second, a half-length in front of Long Weekend.
Following a stewards inquiry into the stretch run focusing on the top-three finishers, Wondrwherecraigis was disqualified and placed third behind Long Weekend. Hopeful Treasure, Newstome and Listentoyourheart rounded out the order of finish. Premier Star was scratched.
Davis said the swift early pace was beneficial for Liam's Pride.
"He broke well and I loved what I saw in front of me, a little duel," said Davis. "He kind of ranged up a little earlier than I thought, but it was okay with this track so I decided to let him do that. At the quarter pole, I pulled him off and let him focus on what was in front of him."
Davis, who won the Hessonite earlier in the Belmont spring/summer meet with Mentality, said he wasn't concerned about the inquiry after racing outside of rivals down the lane.
"I went to the left hand and they decided to kind of drift out in front of me," said Davis. "I wasn't worried. I knew there might have been a little bit of action with the inquiry involved, but I was sure I was okay."
Liam's Pride graduated at fourth asking in an Oaklawn Park maiden sprint in March. Following a pair of fourth-place finishes in optional-claiming tilts at the Hot Springs, Arkansas oval, Liam's Pride tried turf in the one-mile War Chant on May 23 at Churchill Downs when last-of-13.
Purchased for $160,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the Liam's Map grey, a half-brother to Grade 1-winner Morning Line, is out of the A.P. Indy mare Indian Snow.
Bred in Kentucky by Dell Ridge Farm, Liam's Pride banked $44,000 in victory while improving his record to 8-2-0-2. He paid $28 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing returns Saturday at Belmont Park with a 10-race card highlighted by the Grade 2, $150,000 Ruffian in Race 4. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.