Highly Motivated Narrowly Best in Battle of the Browns

Highly Motivated winning the 2020 Nyquist S. | Coady

8th-Belmont, $94,000, Alw (NW2$X), Opt. Clm ($62,500), 5-28, 3yo/up, 1m, 1:36.63, ft, neck.
HIGHLY MOTIVATED (c, 4, Into Mischief–Strong Incentive {SW, $123,568}, by Warrior's Reward), an easing 4-5 favorite, overcame a bit of a slow start, but sat a good inside trip thereafter and outbattled his 'TDN Rising Star' stablemate Stage Raider (Pioneerof the Nile) to the line to lead home yet another Chad Brown-trained exacta Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park. Off to a hesitant beginning and then bumped by The Reds (Tonalist) to his outside, the $240,000 Keeneland November graduate gained ground at the fence to race just in behind dueling longshot pacesetters to the turn. For his part, Stage Raider–backed from 7-2 into 2-1 at the off–was consigned to a five-path run down the backstretch after breaking from the widest gate, but raced more or less on even terms with his stable companion at the half-mile marker. Going ominously well with plenty of breathing room as they raced into the final three-eighths of a mile, with Stage Raider matching strides three off the inside, Highly Motivated was pulled out into the two path and ever so slightly had first run on Stage Raider nearing the stretch. The two class horses raced shoulder-to-shoulder past the eighth pole, and though he had every chance, Stage Raider could not fight his way past and the tough-as-teak Highly Motivated was home about a neck to the good. Chad Brown also saddled the race five exacta where Lakota Spirit (Curlin) outnodded Chaberton (Kantharos) in their respective turf debuts. Facile winner of the Nyquist S. on Breeders' Cup weekend at Keeneland in November 2020, Highly Motivated missed the break in the GIII Gotham S. and could finish no better than third. The bay made the majority of the running in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. back in Lexington last April and held grimly, only to be run down by champion 'Rising Star' Essential Quality (Tapit), but was 10th from a high draw in the GI Kentucky Derby and was shelved. He returned from a 50-week absence with a better-than-it-looks fourth with Lasix added for the first time in a seven-furlong Keeneland allowance Apr. 16. Seth Klarman's operation acquired Strong Incentive for $200,000 at the 2014 OBS April Sale and bred the mare's first winner, Dew Springs (Temple City), in partnership with William H. Lawrence. Mike Ryan signed the ticket on Strong Incentive for $40,000 when offered in foal to Practical Joke on a late cover at Keeneland November in 2018 to dissolve the partnership with Lawrence, but she did not produce the following season. Strong Incentive is the dam of the 2-year-old filly Surge Capacity (Flintshire {GB}), a yearling filly by Practical Joke and was most recently covered by Authentic. Sales history: $240,000 Wlg '18 KEENOV. Lifetime Record: SW & MGSP, 8-3-2-1, $377,375. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O/B-Klaravich Stables (KY); T-Chad C Brown.

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