NEW ORLEANS -- It is not the typical profile of a Lecomte Stakes winner. maiden race at Hoosier Park, allowance race at Delta Downs, stakes at Remington Park. But it worked for Ron the Greek, who rallied strongly behind a fast pace and won the Grade 3, $100,000 Lecomte by 1 1/2 lengths.
A homebred owned by Jack Hammer of Florida and trained by Tom Amoss, Ron the Greek was ridden to victory by James Graham. He paid $17.60 to win, and was timed in 1:40.09 for one mile and 40 yards, .75 seconds faster than Jody Slew's winning time in the Tiffany Lass Stakes for 3-year-old fillies an hour earlier. Maximus Ruler ran a tremendous race to finish second after setting a killing pace. Letsgetitonmon closed mildly for third.
Ron the Greek won those races at Hoosier and Delta, both major accomplishments considering the circumstances. A large-bodied horse that lacks speed, Ron the Greek somehow rallied from last of 10 to win his debut going six furlongs. And though he does not excel at running turns, Ron the Greek also was victorious over Delta Down's bullring track, with its tiny homestretch. At Remington Park, he finished a closing fourth in the $200,000 Springboard Mile, and did so with a troubled trip.
"He was in last, and the horse in second to last stopped him," Amoss said.
Ron the Greek found himself in last again Saturday, but that wasn't a bad spot to occupy. Jockey Cisco Torres allowed Maximus Ruler to roll up to the lead after breaking sharply from post 1, and Maximus Ruler went fast to the quarter-mile and the half, setting opening splits of 23.42 seconds and 46.80. Even with the demanding pace, Maximus Ruler shrugged off his pace rivals and opened up in the stretch, and a furlong out, it looked like he might win. But Ron the Greek, still eighth at the stretch call, and on the far outside, was flying, and he whizzed past the tiring pacesetter in the last 100 yards to win going away.
Amoss said he was inclined to go on to the Risen Star Stakes next month with Ron the Greek, a son of Full Mandate. There, he will hope for more help on the front end.
"He's a one-run closer -- period," Amoss said.
Disappointments in the Lecomte were second-choice Worldly, who flattened out to fifth trying to rally up the fence, and third-choice Citrus Kid, who never factored and checked in seventh.