Four Star Grad Imperative wins $400,000 Poseidon Handicap

Reprinted from TDN

Imperative, in his first start for new connections and first try in Florida, made a big move on the far turn and out-dueled heavy favorite Stanford to score in the inaugural Poseidon H. at Gulfstream.

Away decently, Imperative settled in fourth on the clubhouse turn as Stanford sat second through a :23.83 quarter. The favorite tugged his way up to contention after four furlongs in :48.10 and soon forced through a rail opening to take the lead at the half-mile marker. Imperative was driven four wide soon after that, and swept up to challenge passing three-quarters in 1:12.29. Stanford was confidently handled into the lane, and appeared at several times throughout the stretch to start edging away from his challenger, but Imperative would not go away and got his nose down first in a head-bobbing finish. AI tried to get him into the big race [GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational] and I didn’t have any takers, said winning owner Ron Paolucci. The way he trained over this track, we knew he was going to run good. To beat Stanford he had to run really good, and he did.

Trainer Bob Hess added,  Richard Baltas was very forthright and told us about his quirks. We brought him out here and he worked really well. I think he likes a little sandier track surface. I’m speechless. It’s great to compete on the biggest day in racing, and to be able to compete against and beat Todd Pletcher is fun and exciting. [Imperative] kind of runs with his head up a little, so I thought we might have lost the head bob, but luckily he dropped in time. No complaints.

A 26-1 upsetter of the GII Charles Town Classic back in 2014, Imperative was third in a pair of Grade I events on the west coast that year, but didn’t find the winner’s circle again until this past Nov. 3, when he closed from last to first to capture the Big Bear S. at Santa Anita. The bay was purchased from J K Racing Stable and moved out of the Richard Baltas barn following a sixth-place effort in the GIII Native Diver S. Nov. 27 at Del Mar. The winner’s dam is responsible for an unraced 4-year-old Colonel John filly named Lili Von Shtupp and an unraced sophomore colt by Shackleford named Conquest Gladiator. She failed to produce a foal in 2015 or 2016 and was bred to both Paynter and Munnings last term. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig- Tipton.