Strapping Groom was winless in two starts following his victory in the Grade 1 Forego in August at Saratoga Race Course.
“Turning for home, I asked him, and didn’t think I’d get beat with the way that he kicked in at the end,” said jockey Junior Alvarado. “It worked out pretty good; he was 100 percent on his game today.”
The victory was fourth in nine starts this year for Strapping Groom, who was claimed for $35,000 in May by trainer David Jacobson and Drawing Away Stable.
The 6-year-old son of Johannesburg went on to win the Lion Cavern overnight stakes at Belmont Park and the Kid Russell at Saratoga for his new connections before pulling a 15-1 upset in the Forego.
He was then third in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational and fourth in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap, both at Belmont, before finishing second behind Palace in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap on November 28 at the Big A.
“If he’s not quite back to that Forego race, he’s definitely headed in that direction,” said Jacobson.
Palace, whose three-race win streak was snapped, was 4 ½ lengths clear of third-place finisher Abra.
“I think it would have been better if they had gone faster early on, but what are you going to do,” said Palace’s trainer, Linda Rice. “He ran well.
Jockey taken to hospital
Flipcup made her American debut a winning one as she pulled clear through the stretch to post a 4 ½-length victory over Champagne Ruby on Sunday in the 76th running of the $100,000 East View at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The field of 2-year-old New York-bred fillies was reduced from seven to five with the late scratches of favored Miss Narcissist, who became fractious at the starting gate and flipped, and Underthemoonlight, who was in the adjacent stall. Both fillies were walked off the track.
Jockey Junior Alvarado, aboard Miss Narcissist, was unseated during the incident and was taken to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. for X-rays of his left ankle.
Accelerating when asked for run by jockey Rajiv Maragh, Flipcup poked a head in front straightening for home and was never threatened as she hit the wire.
“My trip was good,” said jockey Rajiv Maragh of the George Weaver-trained filly, who had won two of her three starts over the synthetic surface at Woodbine.