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FINNEGAN'S WAKE EDGES ADMIRAL KITTEN IN THE ARLINGTON HANDICAP
Donegal Racing's Finnegan's Wake stalked a moderate early pace, took the lead in the deep stretch and withstood a strong late challenge from Admiral Kitten to capture Saturday's $200,000 Arlington Handicap at Arlington International Racecourse.
Victor Espinoza was aboard the Dale Romans' charge, who stopped the timer in 2:05.42 over 1¼ miles of firm turf. It was the third career win for the 5-year-old son of Powerscourt, who raised his career bankroll to $605,675.
"I was really close to the pace" Espinoza said. "I wanted to be able to put him in the race. I was worried about the other horse (Avanzare). He was drifting down the lane, but other than that everything went well. It was a very close but he hit right on time at the wire but you never know because you can't see far inside. I just got lucky."
Rated at the back of the pack early, Admiral Kitten weaved his way through stretch traffic, only to fall a head short of the winner. War Dancer, the $1.80-1 post time favorite, finished another half-length back in third.
Finnegan's Wake, who last won a race on June 10, 2012, finished second that same year in Arlington's Grade I Secretariat Stakes and he returned to run fourth in last year's Grade I Arlington Million.
"It's been awhile since I've been this emotional over a win," said Jerry Crawford, principle owner of Donegal Racing. "This is a little homebred and he's been knocking on the door for so long now. Victor couldn't have ridden him better. Dale had him ready today. This is tremendous."
Finnegan's Wake paid $13.20, $5.80 and $3.20. Admiral Kitten returned $3.80 and $2.80. War Dancer paid $2.60.
Avanzare, who led the field of six through tepid splits of 26.36, 52.77, 117.64, and 1.42.28 tired to fourth.
Mister Mardi Gras and Infinite Magic completed the order of finish.