Exciting colt Havana (2c Dunkirk x Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man) was labelled a TDN Rising Star when winning on debut at Saratoga back in August and confirmed his potential when winning the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont at his second appearance.
The Todd Pletcher trained grey duelled for the lead in the early stages of the race under Irad Ortiz Jr before cruising clear down the running. He held off all challengers in the run to the line to score a neck win in the one mile contest.
“Any time you go from 5 ½ [furlongs] to a mile and do it against the type of horses he was in with today, it’s always a concern,” Pletcher said.
“We did a similar thing with Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie), the difference being that was six [furlongs] to a mile. I think it takes a pretty special horse to do it. I’m proud of his efforts today. We knew we were asking him a lot, but we were doing it because we liked him a lot.”
Replacement rider Irad Ortiz Jr handled the colt perfectly and was thrilled with the win.
“When I asked him, he picked it up. He got a little tired at the end a little bit, but he was still running. He was perfect all the way. Thanks to the regular jockey, John Velazquez, he told me how to ride the horse, and it worked out,” Ortiz said.
Havana was a $575,000 purchase for renowned bloodstock agent Demi O’Byrne from the Barretts March 2YO Sale where he ran the fastest furlong ever recorded at that sale when low flying his furlong in a tick over nine seconds.
Raced by Michael Tabor, John Magnier & Derrick Smith, Havana is a half-brother to stakes-placed Among the Willows from Missy Turtle, a half-sister to stakes-winners Chief J Strongbow and Egghead.
Havana is the second Graded Stakes winner for promising young sire Dunkirk, joining Dunkin Bend.
An eye-catching grey, Dunkirk is making a big splash with his first runners this year and is a Grade I placed son of outstanding sire Unbridled’s Song, who died earlier this year.