From $35K Claimer To G1 Winner: 28-1 King David Rules In Jamaica
Three weeks after being claimed for $35,000, 28-1 shot King David joined the elite ranks of Grade 1 winners, rallying through the stretch under jockey Rosie Napravnik to upset Saturday’s 63rd running of the $400,000 Jamaica Handicap on the turf at Belmont Park.
Making his first start in a stakes race, the former claimer ran third, a few lengths off tepid early fractions of 25.89, 52.29 and 1:18.15 set by another longshot, 23-1 King Kreesa. As Summer Front came up the rail to challenge the pacesetter in midstretch, King David launched his bid on the outside and grabbed the lead with less than 100 yards to go for a half-length victory over King Kreesa.
Following the runner-up under the wire were the top three betting choices: second-choice Summer Front, third selection Cogito and 8-5 favorite Dullahan, with Shkspeare Shaliyah and Howe Great completing the order of finish.
Trained by Mike Maker, King David completed the 1 1/8 mile Jamaica in 1:52.91 over an inner turf course rated “good.”
“I assumed I probably would get a stalking trip, and we sat in a great spot,” said Napravnik, who one race earlier captured the Grade 1 Foxwoods Champagne with Shanghai Bobby and had three victories on the card overall. “I was able to save ground on the first turn. The turf is a little bit soft, so I took him to the outside. He just put in a very game effort.”
The victory was the sixth in seven starts this year for King David, a dark bay son of Hat Trick who did not break his maiden until May 25 in a $25,000 claiming race at Arlington Park. Two victories and one second-place finish later, King David travelled from Chicago to Saratoga Race Course, where he was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Nick Canani on August 13. A month later, trainer Mike Maker haltered King David for $35,000 out of a victory at Belmont on behalf of Scarlet Stable.
“Mike saw this horse at Saratoga, and lost a shake [to claim him] there, so he claimed him at Belmont,” said Maker’s assistant, Pearl Hagadorn. “He looks for an athlete that he thinks can improve with his program, and he’s brilliant at it.”
The second-longest shot on the board, King David returned $58 for a $2 win bet and earned back his purchase price almost seven-fold with the winner’s purse of $240,000. Overall, he is 6-1-0 from 11 starts.
“I said [last night to Ramon Dominguez], you know what? Mike does this all the time,” said Napravnik. “He’s very good at turning it around, turning horses over, and doing a great job with them, especially on the turf.’”