Pat On the Back hangs tough to capture Ontario County Stakes

Monday, June 26th, 2017
SV Photography

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

Pat On the Back, winner of the 2016 Aspirant Stakes at Finger Lakes and Sleepy Hollow Stakes at Belmont Park, was still looking to regain his strong juvenile form in four starts this year.

In his fifth start of 2017 on Monday at Finger Lakes Racetrack, the chestnut son of Congrats pulled all the loose ends together when he held off multiple stakes winner Gold for the King to win the 6-furlong, $50,000 Ontario County Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds.

Pat On the Back, who is trained by Kenny McPeek for Harold Lerner LLC, AWC Stables and Nehoc Stables, may have hinted in his previous start, when he finished third in strong running of Belmont’s Mike Lee Stakes on May 29, that he was rounding back into better form. Dylan Davis, who was aboard for the Mike Lee and has been riding with confidence and success downstate, got the return call for the Ontario County.

After early defections of Sal the Turtle, Expediter and Preferred Outcome, the gate for the Ontario County held four at post time (from the inside out): last year’s Rockville Centre winner Runaway Lute, Pat On the Back (second choice at 7-2), multiple stakes winner and .30-1 favorite Gold for the King, and stakes performer Eddie’s Gift.

Runaway Lute got out of the gate first, leading the quartet through an opening quarter mile in 22.20. Pat On the Back pressed a half-length back in second, then took a short lead through the far turn as Eddie’s Gift and Gold for the King stacked up three and four wide to the outside.

After a half in 45.02, an out-and-out stretch duel materialized between Pat On the Back and Gold for the King. As pair battled it out to the wire, Pat On the Back refused to give ground, tenaciously holding off Gold for the King to win by a head. Gold for the King finished 6 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Runaway Lute, who kept a head in front of Eddie’s Gift in fourth. The final time for six furlongs over the fast going was 1:10.67. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Bred by Sugar Maple Farm where he was foaled, Pat On the Back is out of an unplaced Kentucky-bred Awesome Again mare named Accomplished. Purchased by Dan Haydon at the 2004 Keeneland November sale for $40,000, Accomplished has produced eight winners from eight foals to start. Her filly by Performing Magic, Sarah Accomplished, won the 2008 Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes series.

A graduate of the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, Pat On the Back was purchased by McPeek for $70,000.  His third stakes victory Monday improved his career record to four wins, a second and a third from 11 starts and boosted his bankroll to $355,100.

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