Tucci Stables' River Seven broke his maiden in Sunday's Grade 3, $229,677 Grey Stakes at Woodbine, earning 10 points on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby."
The Nick Gonzalez trainee tracked the front-running Five Iron through fractions of :24 2/5, :48 4/5 and 1:12 3/5, then drove to the front beneath Eurico Da Silva in the stretch. Tesseron made a big move on the turn and loomed boldly, but could not get past River Seven, who was three-quarters of a length on top while finishing 1 1/16 Polytrack miles in 1:43 4/5.
Previously unbeaten Uncaptured, the 2-5 favorite, wasn't picking up particularly well in this first try around two turns. He found himself in a pocket behind the winner, and was momentarily tightened up when River Seven drifted slightly off a straight path. But Uncaptured faded inside the final sixteenth and wound up fifth in the six-horse field.
Patrick Husbands, the rider of the beaten favorite, lodged a claim of foul against River Seven. After reviewing the video, the stewards upheld the original order of finish.
"He broke sharp," Da Silva said of River Seven. "He was ready. He sat very close to the lead. My horse never stopped kicking in. He's a very, very nice horse."
Da Silva was not too worried about the claim of foul.
"It looked like I was clear of the other horse (Uncaptured)," the rider said. "But the other rider is doing his job. He needs to do what he needs to do."
River Seven, who was sent off at 7-1, returned $16.60, $7.80 and $18. Tesseron crossed the wire a neck in front of the closing Indiano Jones. Five Iron tired to fourth, followed by Uncaptured and Mercenary. Star Contender was scratched.
River Seven was avenging his three previous defeats. Two of those had come at the hands of Uncaptured, both in sprints. Third in his career debut in the June 30 Clarendon Stakes, where he was beaten nine lengths by Uncaptured, he reduced the margin to just one length in the July 28 Vandal Stakes.
Stretching out for a maiden over a mile and 70 yards on September 3, River Seven closed late, only to fall a half-length short of the winning Tesseron. On Sunday, he got the jump on that rival.
River Seven's scorecard now reads 4-1-2-1, $206,864. The son of Johannesburg was bred by William D. Graham in Ontario and first sold for $80,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. At the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale in March, however, he went to his current connections for $60,000.
The bay gelding is out of the stakes-winning Chester House mare Sans Souci Island and hails from the family of English champion Negligent and current Irish Group 1-winning juvenile filly Sky Lantern.