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Ascend, Danilovna Give Motion Sweep of Turf Stakes

David Grening, Daily Racing Form

Though trainer Graham Motion has won a Kentucky Derby and is in position to win it again in two weeks with Irish War Cry, it was his prowess with turf horses that first put him on the map in the U.S.

That prowess was on display again Saturday at Laurel Park as Motion won both $75,000 turf stakes on the program. Ascend, who had not raced since Oct. 19, came with a flying finish in the lane to rally from last and win the Henry S. Clark Stakes.

Earlier on the program, Motion brought Danilovna back off a five-month freshening to win the $75,000 Dahlia Stakes for fillies and mares.

Feargal Lynch rode Ascend to victory, capping a three-stakes win afternoon for him. Lynch won the $125,000 Federico Tesio on Twisted Tom and the $125,000 Weber City Miss on Lights of Medina.

Ascend, a 5-year-old gelding by Candy Ride, was making his stakes debut in the Clark. He got bumped out of the gate and was last through the opening six furlongs. Lynch began to ask him around the far turn but Ascend still had only two horses beaten in upper stretch. He was forced to go in the No. 8 path but that didn’t matter as he was able to win a four-horse photo, besting Synchrony by a half-length. It was a head to Ghost Hunter and a nose to Irish Strait, also trained by Motion.

“I had so much horse when I turned into the straight I wanted to give him a clear run,” Lynch said of Ascend’s last-to-first venture. “He’s a very nice horse.”

Ascend, owned by Stone Farm and Madaket Stables, covered the mile in 1:36.30 and returned $14.20.

“He’s a useful horse,” Motion said. “He’s on the improve.”

Motion mentioned the Grade 2, $250,000 Dixie Stakes on Preakness Day as a possible next spot for Ascend.

Watch the race replay at DRF.