Longshots Ripon and Take The Pledge each took an end of yesterday's split running of the $35,000-added Native Dancer Handicap at Bowie. Ripon was ridden by Kelly Castanda while Take The Pledge was piloted by Jack Kurtz.
In the first half of the Dancer, Snappy Chatter and Piped Aboard battled for the lead until the far turn where Ripon looped the pair to gain a clear lead entering the stretch. Castaneda held the $27.20 winner together as he began to tire and Parnis commenced a run on the outside. Approaching the wire it appeared that Parnis might make it but Ripon held on by a neck.
Ripon ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45 3/5 and topped a 6-3 exacta worth $237.60. Trainer Jonathan Sheppard said of the winner, "He'll be back for the Campbell (March 11)."
In the second half of the feature, Gala Harry, the odds-on favorite, appeared edgy in the post parade and did not extend himself in the running. Easy Gallop and Do The Bump did the best early running, then were joined by Resound turning for home. Take The Pledge had been running last but was under full steam once straightened for the run to the wire. At the eighth pole Kurtz switched sticks and struck his $16.20 winner hard from the right side. His margin over Resound at the finish was a half-length.
Kurtz said, "My horse was full of run when he turned for home and we were all out." The exacta paid $52. Take The Pledge ran the 1-1/16 miles in 1:45 2/5.