Cross Border explodes to win Cape Henlopen

Saturday, September 16th, 2023

Ageless veteran Cross Border rolls to victory in Saturday’s Cape Henlopen at Delaware Park. Hoofprints, Inc. Photo.

Cross Border returned to flat racing this summer after a brief stint as a steeplechaser, and returned to the winner’s circle with his fifth stakes victory in Saturday’s $200,450 Cape Henlopen going long on the grass at Delaware Park.

The 9-year-old English Channel ridgling won on the flat for the first time since taking the Prairie Bayou Stakes in mid-December 2021. The multiple graded stakes winner lost six straight after that run before making four appearances on the National Hunt scene, where he finished third in a 2-mile flat stakes under steeplechase conditions at Far Hills in October 2022 and won a 2 1/16-mile maiden hurdle at the Aiken Steeplechase in late March.

Cross Border returned to the flat game in the 2-mile, Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup June 9 at Belmont Park, where he finished 13th.

Entered a few times early in the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, where he won back-to-back editions of the Grade 2 Bowling Green in 2020 and 2021, Cross Border didn’t run until Aug. 26 when he finished a close third for a $62,500 tag in a 1 3/16-mile allowance-optional on the grass.

Cross Border wasn’t claimed that day and the Wycoff family’s Three Diamonds Farm and trainer Mike Maker set their sights on Delaware Park’s stamina-testing Cape Henlopen.

Sent off as the 8-1 fourth choice in the field of eight behind John’s Call Stakes winner Tawny Port, Commandeer and Beacon Hill, Cross Border was content to race second-last for most of the 1 1/2-mile trip over the firm turf course.

Tawny Port, the even-money favorite off his Saratoga victory last time out, led the field from the break under Trevor McCarthy. They carved out posted fractions of :24.49, :53.55 and 1:18.23 under slight pressure from Urban Myth. Cross Border and Ruben Silvera saved round the entire way and were still next-to-last around the far turn. Tawny Port tried to give the field the slip up the backstretch, raced past the mile in 1:42.72 and continued to lead into the lane.

Silvera angled several paths off the rail turning for home and Cross Border responded with a furious run, caught Tawny Port at the sixteenth pole and drew clear to a 2 1/2-length win over Tawny Port. Tough Tickets finished another 3 1/4 lengths back in third with Commandeer fourth. Cross Border won in 2:33.31.

Bred by Dr. Doug Koch’s Berkshire Stud and B. D. Gibbs and foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Cross Border improved to 13-for-52 with eight seconds and seven thirds and boosted his bankroll to $1,333,258. A $100,000 purchase by Three Diamonds and Maker at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July horses of racing age sale, Cross Border was a finalist for New York-bred champion turf male honors in 2020 and 2021 and missed out on the crowns to stablemate Somelikeithotbrown.

A $180,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase in 2015 before selling for $10,000 at the 2016 OBS June sale, Cross Border is one of three winners from three to race out of the Empire Maker mare Empress Josephine. Empress Josephine is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winning New York-bred Private Emblem and stakes winner Rhum, the dam of leading New York sire and Grade 2 winner Central Banker and multiple stakes winner Gantry.

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