Nine-year-old Kharafa wins West Point at 17-1

Friday, August 24th, 2018

Coglianese Photos

By Bill Heller

Paul Braverman and Timothy Pinch’s nine-year-old New York-bred gelding Kharafa obviously never got the memo heading into Friday’s mile-and-a-sixteenth $150,000 West Point Stakes on New York-bred Showcase Day Friday at Saratoga Race Course. See, the memo said that the Old Guard had changed in high-profile New York-bred grass stakes because Lubash had been retired at the age of 10, and Kharafa, as well as his West Point opponent Friday King Kreesa, were both nine-years-old. Yes, they were million-dollar earners, but time moves on. And Kharafa was zero-for-10 the last two years and Kreesa zero-for-five in that span.

Well, Kreesa didn’t get involved Friday, but Kharafa sure did. Sent off at 17-1 under Dylan Davis in the field of 11, Kharafa rallied from far back to take a clear lead past the sixteenth pole and then hold off 3-5 Offering Plan by a half-length to win in 1:40.44. Rapt, who was 9-1 under Irad Ortiz Jr., finished third, a half-length behind Offering Plan while 2 1/2 lengths ahead of 9-2 Morrison and Luis Saez in fourth.

“This is incredible,” Davis said as he was bringing Kharafa back to the winner’s circle. “When he turned for home, he turned into a beast.”

Even at the ripe age of nine, just like Fourstardave and John’s Call: a Saratoga stakes winner.

Coglianese Photos

High Meadow Farm bred Kharafa, a son of Kitalpha out of Exquisite Cassie by King of Kings who is trained by Timothy Hills. Hills has done a remarkable job managing Kharafa’s career. “He’s nine-years-old, but he doesn’t train like an old horse,” Hills said. “He loves what he does. He got a real good trip this time. I’m so happy for Dylan. His dad, Robbie, is one of my all-time favorite riders.”

Besides Kharafa’s two-year-old losing streak, Davis also had to deal with his horse’s lack of success at Saratoga, where he was zero-for-six with one second and four thirds. “He’s never done well at Saratoga,” Hills said. “In fact, he gets real keyed up with the crowd. It was nice to break through here.”

Davis let Kharafa linger far behind the fast pace set by 24-1 Black Tide and Jose Lezcano that produced three-quarters in 1:10.46. When Black Tide called it a day, the race was wide open.

And out of the pack came Kharafa with a full-speed rally. He charged to the lead and then made it last. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Kharafa improved his incredible grass record to 13-for-48 with 13 seconds, nine thirds and earnings of more than $1.2 million.

“He definitely brought his `A’ game today,” Davis said. “To be a nine-year-old and he still tries, I’m glad to continue to ride him. I want to thank Tim and the owners for keeping me on him.”

Davis probably should have thanked one more person, the one who threw out that memo before Kharafa read it.

Age be damned.

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