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Ascend Goes Last-to-First in the Henry S. Clark

Horse Racing Nation

Stone Farm and Madaket Stables’ ASCEND, jumping into stakes company for the first time in his 5-year-old debut off six months between races, made a last-to-first move under jockey Feargal Lynch to capture the $75,000 Henry S. Clark presented presented by Fidelity First and James Blackwell Real Estate Saturday at Laurel Park.

The 17th running of the Clark for 3-year-olds and up and the 15th running of the $75,000 Dahlia for fillies and mares 3 and older, both at one mile over the Dahlia Turf Course layout, were two of five stakes worth $475,000 in purses on the 11-race program

Highlighting Saturday’s card were the $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds and $125,000 Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies, ‘Win and You’re In’ races for the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) May 20 and $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 19, respectively, at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Also on the program was the $75,000 Primonetta for fillies and mares going six furlongs on the main track.

The Clark was the third stakes win of the day for jockey Feargal Lynch, who also scored aboard Twisted Tom in the Tesio and Lights of Medina in the Weber City Miss. It also completed a turf stakes sweep for trainer Graham Motion, who won the Dahlia with Danilovna.

Ascend ($14.20) ran one mile in 136.30 over a yielding turf course. Synchrony edged Ghost Hunter for second, with Motion-trained Irish Strait fourth. Rose Brier, the defending champion and 2-1 favorite, held a narrow lead in mid-stretch but faded to seventh in his first start since Jan. 14.

“He’s useful horse, this horse. He’s on the improve,” Motion said. “Feargal came and worked him and Irish Strait the other day and I think he’s going to be a fun horse this year.”

Breaking from Post 7 in a field of 12 older turf horses, Ascend was unhurried in the early going as 45-1 long shot Heiko set fractions of 24.73 seconds for a quarter-mile, 49.20 for the half and 1:13.13 for six furlongs with Rose Brier, unbeaten in four previous tries at Laurel, all in stakes, and Silent Waters in closest pursuit.

Rose Brier had forged a short lead after straightening for home as Lynch swung Ascend to the far outside where they steadily powered down the stretch to catch Synchrony and Ghost Hunter approaching the wire and edge past to win by a half-length.

“I just had so much horse when I turned into the stretch and I wanted to give him a clear run, and the horse just ran them down at the end,” Lynch said. “He’s a nice horse. We knew we’d be off the pace and we just hoped we didn’t get too far out of our ground and saved as much as we could and come with that big run.”

Motion said the $250,000 Longines Dixie (G2) at 1 1/16 miles May 20 at Pimlico would be among the considerations for Ascend, who now owns five wins and four seconds from 13 career starts with $269,280 in purse earnings.

“It’s possible he could come back in a race like the Dixie, but we’ll wait and see. I think he’s got a lot of options,” he said. “I think he can go further and he’s actually won on the dirt, so we have a lot of options.”

Tesio Day Handle Up 59 Percent

Total handle on Laurel’s Tesio Day card – which included ‘Win & You’re In’ races for the Preakness (G1) and Black-Eyed Susan (G1), was $3.9 million, up from last year’s total handle of $2.4 million despite rainy conditions.

In-state handle was up 6.6 percent and export was up 63.8 percent.

Source: Maryland Jockey Club