Longshot P J Advantage surprises in George W. Barker Stakes

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

SV Photography

By Sarah Mace

P J Advantage, owned and trained by Paul Barrow, sprang a surprise on bettors in Monday’s $50,000 George W. Barker Stakes, the first race of the 2019 Finger Lakes stakes program. Let go as the longest shot on the board at odds of 16-1, the 4-year-old gelded son of Posse edged ahead in the stretch to win the 6-furlong sprint for New York-breds by one length. Saratoga Giro, his stablemate and last year’s Barker winner, finished second at 6-1 generating a “all-Barrow” exacta worth $126.50.

P J Advantage came into the Barker sporting a strong record of eight wins in 15 prior starts. Three weeks earlier he won the local prep for the race, besting Finger Lakes stakes winners Saratoga Giro and Winston’s Chance in a sloppy Finger Lakes allowance. Still, the six-horse Barker field was a relatively salty mix of six locals and shippers and, by post time, bettors had gravitated to a pair of stakes horses from downstate: Bavaro, winner of the Hollie Hughes on February 18 (4-5 favorite), and Sudden Surprise, a five-time stakes winner making his Farmington debut (3-1 second choice).

After the break, Sudden Surprise darted up the fence to grab the lead from Saratoga Giro in the opening strides and the field split into two flights. The leading group consisted of Sudden Surprise inside, Saratoga Giro two-wide and Bavaro in the three-path. Chasing three lengths back were Aveenu Malcainu on the outside, P J Advantage between horses and Winston’s Change at the fence.

After Sudden Surprise took the field through a testing opening quarter in 21.55, P J Advantage found room to angle inside under jockey Daniel Vergara. Saving ground in the bend as the quarter went in 44.77, he cornered well and advanced into contention at the rail.

Making the front with a furlong to go, P J Advantage’s final task was to keep Saratoga Giro, who survived the early pace, at bay. In the end, he out-finished his stablemate to record the win in a final time of 1:10.10.

Saratoga Giro finished 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Aveenu Malcainu in third while Bavaro completed the superfecta. Sudden Surprise and Winston’s Chance, the back marker throughout, completed the order of finish. So Noted, originally drawn at the rail, was scratched. [VIDEO REPLAY]

Bred by Andiamo Farm, P J Advantage is the most accomplished offspring of Weefc with a record of nine wins and two seconds from 16 starts. The winner’s share of the Barker purse brings his earnings to $171,845.

Weefc is a winning Kentucky-bred daughter of Tapit who raced at Finger Lakes and on the NYRA circuit for two seasons and retired with 27 starts to her credit. She has produced two other winners and currently has a yearling Girolamo filly. She was bred to Boys at Tosconova in 2018.

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