Rosbrian Farm’s Detroit Blues, making his first U.S. jumps start in a tough spot, hit all the high notes Wednesday when he swept to the lead on Saratoga Race Course’s final turn and held off a game Hardrock Eleven to win a $65,000 allowance hurdle by 2 1/4 lengths.
Ballybristol Farm’s Blue Atlantic finished third, four behind Virginia Lazenby’s Hardrock Eleven, and Berland finished fourth in a field of eight.
Trained by Ricky Hendriks, Detroit Blues went off at 13-to-1 and paid $28 to win after running the allowance hurdle’s 2 1/16 miles in 3:51.35 on turf rated as good after torrential rains on Saturday that forced the cancellation of half of the card.
Detroit Blues broke sharply from the outside post position and was right behind early leaders Personal Start and Unsinkable into the first fence. Jockey Sean McDermott eased him into midfield down the backstretch the first time.
Personal Start and Unsinkable maintained their positions in front until the last of eight fences, when both began to tire and stalking Hardrock Eleven moved toward the front on the outside with apprentice jockey Brendan Crowley, while Detroit Blues jumped onto the lead at the last.
Hardrock Eleven led into the turn, but Detroit Blues showed a superior turn of foot into the stretch and held off Hardrock Eleven with modest pressure from McDermott.
Unsinkable, the 3-to-5 favorite, had been scratched from Saratoga’s first 2016 steeplechase race, an allowance hurdle on July 27, when he refused to enter the turf course and unseated jockey Jack Doyle.
Equipped with a hood for his latest start, Unsinkable nonetheless showed signs of nervousness before the start. Shuffled back after the last fence, he faded through the stretch and finished last.
Detroit Blues had made his American debut with a second-place finish behind Unsinkable in a Parx Racing flat race for hurdlers. The Saratoga score was his first win since a maiden hurdle victory at Fontwell in England in May 2015.