By: Jay Privman
HOT SPRINGS, AK – Decorated Soldier successfully stretched out around two turns and overcame a wide trip when capturing the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes for 3-year-olds on the Arkansas Derby undercard at Oaklawn Park Saturday.
Decorated Soldier ($8.60), the second choice, broke from post nine in the 10-horse field, and jockey John Velazquez never really had an opportunity to drop in. Decorated Soldier was caught four paths wide on the final turn, but was able to get the best of Big Red Rocket through the lane and prevail by a neck in the one-mile race, which started and finished at the sixteenth pole.
Big Red Rocket finished a length in front of third place Unexplained, with Z Royal fourth. Maptap, the 5-2 favorite, was sixth.
“We were optimistic he’d run well going two turns,” Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Decorated Soldier, said by phone from Gulfstream Park, where he watched the race. Pletcher said Decorated Soldier’s maiden win at Tampa on March 12 – his second start and first since August – “ was “pretty good, and he trained well since.”
“Johnny did the best he could under the circumstances,” Pletcher said. “Fortunately,” he joked, “we had him fit enough to go mile and sixteenth.”
Decorated Soldier covered one mile on the fast main track in 1:37.87.
Decorated Soldier, a son of Proud Citizen owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, was a $120,000 yearling purchase. His first prize of $90,000 on Saturday brought his career earnings to $106,050.