Heaven’s Runway rallies to Dave’s Friend win

by | Dec 31, 2016 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing

Heaven’s Runway took the Dave’s Friend Stakes. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

From a Maryland Jockey Club release

A year after being beaten as the favorite in the $100,000 Dave’s Friend, Heaven’s Runway made a triumphant return to Maryland by wearing down top choice Chief Lion through the stretch and edging past for a half-length victory Saturday at Laurel Park.

The Dave’s Friend for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs anchored five stakes worth $475,000 on the New Year’s Eve program that closed Laurel’s 52-day fall meet. Other stakes for 3-year-olds and up were the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go for fillies and mares and $75,000 Jennings for Maryland-bred/sired horses, both at one mile.

Also on Saturday’s stakes program were the $100,000 Marylander for 2-year-olds and the $100,000 Gin Talking for 2-year-old fillies, both at seven furlongs.

Jockey Cornelio Velasquez had Heaven’s Runway ($7) in a stalking position in third on the outside as even-money favorite Chief Lion ran the opening quarter-mile in 23 seconds. Heaven’s Runway moved to second after a half in 45.83 and still trailed by 1 ½ lengths straightening for home.

As he did in his previous start, rallying for a neck victory over Stallwalkin’ Dude in the Fall Highweight (G3) Nov. 24 at Aqueduct, Heaven’s Runway steadily gained ground down the stretch and was resolute late to win in 1:09.74 for six furlongs over a fast main track.

“My horse keeps improving and every time he is much better. I think three-quarters is a good distance for him. I think he’s tough in there,” Velasquez said. “Today he broke good and had good position and at the three-eighths pole I start to put pressure on the horse in front. He ran a big race.”

Heaven’s Runway won for the second time in three starts since being claimed for $62,500 by trainer Rudy Rodriguez on behalf of owner Michael Dubb Aug. 28 at Saratoga. Chief Lion, like Stallwalkin’ Dude trained by David Jacobson, held second by a length over 22-1 long shot Sir Rockport.

It was another nose back to Chublicious in fourth, followed by Measured and Bodhisattva.