Hedge Fund manages to squeak out Essex win

March 18th, 20188:40 am @

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HOT SPRINGS — Post-time favorite Hedge Fund and jockey Jose Ortiz shook off a challenge at the top of the stretch on the way to claiming a victory in the 70th running of The Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park on Saturday afternoon.

Hedge Fund was briefly passed by Dalmore as the two reached the final turn but the 4-year-old son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver responded with a powerful kick that led to a 2 3/4-length victory in the 1 1/16th race for 4-year-olds and up.

“The horse on the outside [Dalmore] moved by the three-eighths pole, so I had to get going,” Ortiz said. “My horse really gave me a great run to the wire. I won on him the last time and we did kind of the same thing.”

Hedge Fund’s winning time was 1:42.06. He paid $7, $4.40 and $3.

Untrapped, ridden by the meet’s leading jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. finished second and paid $5.60 and $3.60. Blueridge Traveler with Channing Hill on board, was third and paid 5.60. Dalmore wound up fourth. Morning-line favorite Dazzling Gem finished sixth in the seven-horse field that also had four scratches.

Hedge Fund broke sharply and beat Untrapped and long shot Rocking the Boat to the first turn. The eventual winner ran 23.21 through the first quarter, putting himself in prime position for the rest of the race.

“I tried to rate him and tried to go as slow as I could,” Ortiz said. “I saw that I went :46 [at the half-mile marker], but he was doing it pretty easy. The track is pretty fast today and he gave me a great run down the stretch.”

It was the second win in a row for the Todd Pletcher-trained horse and his third in six chances.

Sports on 03/18/2018

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