Jockey Mike Smith said Coronado's Quest gave him all he had in a stretch battle with two other 3-year-olds Saturday in the Travers -- and it was just enough.
Coronado's Quest won a contest of noses over Victory Gallop and Raffie's Majesty and the pulsating victory at Saratoga moved him into the lead for the 3-year-old championship.
The three colts hit the wire almost as one as their supporters screamed. Coronado's Quest got his hard-earned victory by the bob of his head.
"I knew Victory Gallop was coming," Smith said. "I didn't see Raffie's Majesty."
As Victory Gallop and Raffie's Majesty cut down the lead of Coronado's Quest in the final eighth of a mile, Smith said he was tempted to tap his horse with his whip but didn't do so for fear the colt would change leads.
"He was doing his best," Smith said. "He gave me his all."
Coronado's Quest, racing 1 1/4 miles for the first time, ran under scale weight of 126 pounds in 2:03 2/5 and paid $4.90, $3 and $2.70.
Victory Gallop, ridden by Alex Solis, paid $2.60 and $2.20 in losing for the second time since denying Real Quiet the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes on June 6. He finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Coronado's Quest in the 1 1/8 -mile Haskell Invitational on Aug. 9 at Monmouth Park.
Raffie's Majesty, ridden by Jorge Chavez, was a distant last as the seven-horse field ran down the backstretch before he flew down the stretch outside his two rivals and just missed. He returned $3.10.
Completing the order of finish were Archers Bay, Grand Slam, Deputy Diamond and Dice Dancer.
Skip Away won't race next year
OCEANPORT, N.J. -- The chances to watch Skip Away apparently are dwindling heading into the $500,000 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park today (5 p.m., ESPN), trainer Sonny Hine says.
Skip Away probably will be retired to stud after finishing a year in which the gray colt is expected to become thoroughbred racing's leading career money winner.
The 5-year-old son of Skip Trial is about $1 million shy of breaking Cigar's record of just under $10 million in earnings. The gap is expected to be reduced by $300,000 today when Skip Away goes for his eighth straight win against six average horses who have not combined to win a graded stakes race this year.
Hine has plans to race Skip Away in the Woodward, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeders' Cup Classic after the Iselin.
If the colt were to keep his winning streak alive, he would then have won 11 in a row, five shy of the record shared by Cigar and Citation. Hine admitted that fans and people in racing have talked to him about shooting for that mark in 1999.
"I just think it's fair that the horse be retired," Hine said.
Awesome Again favored
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Stronach Stables' Awesome Again is expected to be the favorite in today's 10th running of the $300,000, Grade II Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap.
The Deputy Minister colt is undefeated in three starts this year, the most recent of which came in Saratoga Race Course's Whitney on Aug. 8.