July 14, 2024

Integration remains unbeaten following Hill Prince romp

Intgration wins the Hill Prince S. (G2)
Integration wins the Hill Prince S. (G2) (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Chelsea Durand)

Integration further stamped himself as a potential leading player in the male turf division next season with an authoritative victory in the $250,000 Hill Prince (G2) at Aqueduct on Saturday.

Favored at 4-5 in a field of nine three-year-olds, Integration enjoyed a perfect trip in the nine-furlong, firm-course test. Rating in third behind 65-1 pacesetter Laurel Valley and the relatively inexperienced second choice Equitize, who failed to settle at times during the race, Integration pounced on both approaching the turn for home and then sped away while drifting out in the run to the wire. The winning margin was a decisive five lengths under Kendrick Carmouche.

“Those horses in front of me were going pretty well,” Carmouche said. “I was sitting on the rail at the beginning, and I angled him out to the three path where they couldn’t keep me in there. This horse did everything on his own. This is a monster.”

Integration covered the distance in 1:47.06, barely off the course record of 1:47 set by Slew the Dragon in 1985. He returned $3.60 to win.

I’m Very Busy finished second, one length ahead of Toofareastiswest. Freedom Trail, Faraday, Laurel Valley, Equitize, Classic Catch, and Quality Chic rounded out the order of finish.

Integration races for the partnership of West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing. Trainer Shug McGaughey had high praise for the son of Quality Road, who is now 3-for-3 following two earlier wins over the summer at Colonial Downs, including a score in the Sept. 9 Virginia Derby (G3) a mere four weeks after breaking his maiden in a belated debut.

“I think this was his best race,” McGaughey said. “The race at Colonial was really a good race and a good field β€” the horse that was second was a Grade 1 winner. To come back and do it here, I think it was a really good race.

“I always liked this horse. He just had little things and we had to stop β€” nothing major. He had a little splint and we have to back off of him.

“He’s going to go to Florida as soon as I can get him there,” added McGaughey, who confirmed the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) at Gulfstream in late January as a potential next start.

A $750,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling purchase, Integration was bred by Larkin Armstrong in Kentucky. He was produced by Del Mar Oaks (G1) winner Harmonize, a daughter of Scat Daddy.

Later in the card, Nothing Better successfully defended his title in the $150,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship, leading throughout in the six-furlong test.

Under Dylan Davis, Nothing Better sped the first quarter in :21.90 and the first half in :44.38. He had more enough left in the tank, and sufficient class, to hold sage the 44-1 outsider Boat’s a Rockin by 1 3/4 lengths. Alogon was another length behind in third, with 1.55-1 favorite Our Shot fourth in the field of 11.

“He loves this track,” Duarte said. “We got lucky there was no rain this week and it was a firm turf course. He’s sharp. He likes the colder weather.”

Nothing Better covered six furlongs in 1:07.27, .47 seconds off his own course record, and returned $12.20. He is owned by Colts Neck Stable and trained by Jorge Duarte Jr.

A six-year-old gelded son of Munnings, Nothing Better was produced One True Love, a Duke of Marmalade halfistser to Grade 1 winner Folk Opera. The latter is the second dam of Hong Kong champion Romantic Warrior.