After High Brite scored a decisive victory in yesterday's $135,800 Governor's Cup Handicap at Laurel Race Course, his owner, Joseph Allen, said, "I feel like the boxer that has thrown the perfect one-two punch."
Earlier in the day, another of his horses, Sir Harry Lewis, whom he owns in partnership with Howard Kaskel, won the prestigious Irish Derby at The Curragh, a race televised in the Turf Club at the Laurel track.
"These things happen to other people, not us," said Allen, whose wife Rhonda is a celebrated sculptor. "We breed and buy horses, my wife sculpts them and one day something as phenomenal as this happens. I have to stop to catch my breath."
High Brite, the 7-to-5 favorite trained by Wayne Lukas, was first out of the gate, followed by Green Book and Homebuilder. They continued that way until the far turn, where jockey Craig Perret eased away from his five rivals with High Brite. Homebuilder then began cutting into the lead.
In midstretch, they were side by side when Perret struck his colt sharply from the left side, and High Brite edged away to win by a length, with Green Book another 1 1/2 lengths back. High Brite covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 3/5, two-fifths of a second off the track record.
"He's quick," said Perret, who rode Bet Twice to victory in the Belmont Stakes three weeks ago. "I tried to open up at one point . . . They kept coming at me, but he just used enough to maintain the lead. When I asked him in the stretch, he was aggressive."
The victory was High Brite's fourth in 15 career starts, and the $86,920 first prize brought his earnings over $290,000. The winning mutuel was $4.80, the 1-3 exacta $11.80.
The crowd of 11,116 wagered $1,768,333 on the 11-race program that included an extra race because of Monday's one-race cancellation due to a rainstorm.
Apprentice Kent Desormeaux widened his lead in Laurel's jockey standings with four winners. The 17-year-old has 38 victories this meeting, 21 more than Donald Miller Jr. and Mary Wiley, who are tied for second.