Ring Weekend Wins 500k Hill Prince
Run or scratch? That was the $300,000 question (winner’s share of the $500,000 purse) for trainer Graham Motion and West Point president Terry Finley on Saturday afternoon. The decision to run proved to be the right one for Ring Weekend, who bulled his way through in deep stretch to capture the $500,000 Hill Prince Stakes (G3) for West Point Thoroughbreds and St. Elias Stable.
The predicted intermittent showers in the Elmont, New York area turned into a mini monsoon in the late morning hours. Graham Motion was calling Terry as well as his longtime assistant Alice Clapman on the hour from the Arc de Triomphe in France for track and weather updates. There was quite a bit of concern as to whether or not the son of Tapit would handle a boggy course. With the rain subsiding in mid-afternoon, the decision was made to run and Ring Weekend went off as the post time favorite with the late scratch of Bill Mott trainee Tourist.
Under Irad Ortiz, Jr., the 3-year-old son of Tapit rated along the inside in the early stages of the 1 1/8 mile journey. He was behind a wall of horses turning for home before finding a seam and exploding in the final sixteenth. There were some tense moments after the race as there was an inquiry and jockey’s objection due to bumping in the shadow of the wire. Fortunately for Ring Weekend’s connections, the result stood.
"We worked out a great trip, my horse relaxed like a pro down the backside,” said Ortiz. “I knew I had a lot of horse and he exploded for me when a hole opened up.”
The Hill Prince was the third graded stakes win for Ring Weekend, who captured the Saranac Stakes (G3) on closing day of the Saratoga meet. In March he lead from gate to wire to win the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
“I was concerned he wouldn’t handle the soft turf and we’d waste a race,” said Motion. “He proved me wrong, he’s really a versatile horse. I’d have to think after this effort he’s one of the top of three-year-old turf horses in this country.”
Ring Weekend is now under consideration for the $200,000 Twilight Derby (G2) run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for 3-year-olds on Friday, October 31 at Santa Anita on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.Terry Finley says, “If he were a four-year-old, we’d probably close up shop and get him ready for next year. However, he’s only a three-year-old once and there are a few more options for him before the end of the year. We’re strongly considering the Twilight Derby and Hollywood Derby in late November at Del Mar.”