River Keen continued trainer Bob Baffert's recent New York luck today, winning the $500,000 Woodward at Belmont Park in a photo finish after a furious stretch battle with Dubai World Cup winner Almutawakel.
Baffert's horses, who had been 0 for 9 in New York, including four Belmont Stakes -- two of those heart-breaking losses with a Triple Crown on the line -- are 8 for 12 since July.
"I figured Belmont owed me at least one photo," the California-based Baffert said by telephone from Lexington, Ky., where he was attending the Keeneland sales.
River Keen, a 7-year-old Irish-bred horse, had been sent to New York from the West Coast by Baffert in an effort to keep him away from his more celebrated stablemate, Pacific Classic winner General Challenge.
"General Challenge is unbelievable and by winning the Woodward, River Keen showed just how good a horse he is," said Baffert, who claimed River Keen for $100,000 last December for owner Hugo Reynolds.
Stephen Got Even, the 3-year-old trained by Nick Zito, closed to finish third, 1 1/2 lengths back, with Running Stag holding on for fourth, another neck behind. Completing the order of finish were Gander, Black Cash and Barter Town.