Backyard Heaven passed his first stakes test with aplomb, defeating a salty field that included last year’s GI Kentucky Derby hero Always Dreaming (Bodemeister) to capture the Alysheba. Jetting out alongside Always Dreaming, Backyard Heaven remained glued to that rival’s outside shoulder in second, running well clear of the rest of the field through an opening half-mile in :46.79. Edging ahead of the Derby winner on the backstretch run, the Ramsey runner powered clear in the stretch and it was just a matter of how much he’d win by from there. Hand ridden by Irad Ortiz, Backyard Heaven crossed the line with ears pricked, well clear of runner-up Hawaakom. MGSW Good Samaritan came running on late to be third and MGISW Hoppertunity checked in fourth ahead of Always Dreaming.
“I told Irad [Ortiz] to leave out there and that [Always Dreaming] looked like the lone speed; stay very close, but turn it into a two-horse race,”
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