Joe McSorley’s Lune de Caro took the inside path into the final fence of Parx Racing’s $35,000 Ratings Handicap Hurdle and closed powerfully under Willie McCarthy to win by 2 1/2 lengths Tuesday at the suburban Philadelphia track.
Bruce Smart Jr.’s Orchestra Leader, who had taken over the lead from pacesetter Ryvit at the next to last fence, finished second, 3 1/2 lengths clear of Augustin Stables’ Young Bohemian, who made a strong bid into the final fence. Irv Naylor’s Nearby finished fourth.
Sent to the starter at odds of 2.90-1, Lune de Caro ran the Ratings Handicap’s 2 1/16 miles in 3: 44 1/5 on firm turf.
Lune de Caro carried the second-lowest weight based on a rating of 99, but Parx bettors made him the favorite in a large, well-matched field. A multiple winner on the flat, the Texas-bred Cozzene gelding had won his maiden hurdles victory at High Hope on May 17 before being turned over to Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who has raced at the Bensalem track since its opening in 1974.
Jack Doyle continued to chip away at Paddy Young’s lead in the jockey standings when he rallied Gil Johnston’s Miguel Grau on Parx’s final bend and overtook free-running front-runner Mizyen to win the first division of the $30,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle.
In the second division, Michael Estes’ Curmudgeon closed relentlessly to snatch victory away from Yellow Mountain, who had taken the lead after the last fence.
Trained by Richard Valentine, Miguel Grau spotted Mizyen 10 lengths at the next-to-last fence but quickly reeled in the Irish-bred front-runner, jumped the last with a five-length lead, and won by 10 1/2 lengths. Noble Bull finished third, 10 lengths behind Mizyen.
Miguel Grau, a five-year-old City Zip gelding, won in his fourth start over fences after a flat career in England. He went off at 9-2 and ran the 2 1/16-mile distance in 3:44 2/5 on firm turf.
Winner of two jump races at Monmouth Park on June 19, Doyle secured his eighth win of the current National Steeplechase Association season and now trails four-time champion jockey Young by four victories.
Doyle, who left his native Ireland in late spring to ride the remainder of the 2015 schedule, leads the jockey standings by earnings with more than $270,000. Owner Johnston leads the owner standings with more than $200,000 in current-year earnings.
In the second division, North Star Boy set the pace from the start and yielded the advantage grudgingly to Riverdee Stable’s Yellow Mountain, who grabbed the advantage in midstretch and appeared to be headed for victory under Ross Geraghty.
Curmudgeon, reserved at the back of the field in the early going, quickly found his best stride after the last fence under Gus Dahl, split the leaders inside the sixteenth pole, and defeated Yellow Mountain by a nose.
Curmudgeon went off at 7-1 and ran the distance in 3:46 3/5. Trained by Desmond Fogarty, Curmudgeon went to the winner’s circle after his third start over fences. Bred by the University of Kentucky, Curmudgeon had had a successful flat career while trained by his owner.