Gander tops Md. pair in Cup thriller

`Vow,' Include 2nd, 3rd in 3-horse photo finish

September 29, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The two-horse race involving horses trained by Marylanders turned out to be a race for second and third, but it was anything but routine for all three.

Gander, a gray New York-bred, led nearly every step, but was nearly caught at the wire, fending off his two rivals in a three-horse photo finish to win the $500,000 Meadowlands Cup, a Grade II stakes at 1 1/8 miles under the lights last night at the Meadowlands.

Broken Vow, the 6-5 second choice trained by H. Graham Motion, finished second, a head back of Gander, while Include, the even-money favorite trained by Grover G. "Bud" Delp, was a neck behind Broken Vow in third.

Motion and Delp train horses in barns near one another in a far corner of the stables at Laurel Park. For their mighty 4-year-olds, the Meadowlands Cup was supposed to be the final test to determine whether they would run in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park.

The race determined nothing, at least not immediately. Motion said he would have to think about whether to run Unbroken Vow in the country's richest race. Delp did not attend the Cup. Robert E. Meyerhoff, owner and breeder of Include, said the trainer was undergoing a "medical procedure."

Gander, the 4-1 third choice, broke quickly from his 2 post, led the five-horse field through slow fractions and then held off Broken Vow and Include down the stretch. Broken Vow stuck his nose in front, but Gander fought back.

"We beat Include, but didn't win," Motion said. "It looked like he was a winner at the eighth pole, but Gander came back. He had enough left off those early fractions."

Jerry Bailey, who rode Include, said that he couldn't explain the colt's performance. He said he, like Motion with Broken Vow, thought Include was a winner at the eighth pole. Bailey said Include gained the lead for a stride or two.

"Usually, when a horse like this takes the lead, he goes ahead and puts them away," Bailey said.

This was Include's first race since irritating a tiny fracture in a bone in his right foreleg July 1 in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.

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