Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Najjaar, ridden by James Graham, found Keeneland's main track to his liking Thursday with a narrow victory in the $100,000 Sycamore Stakes.
Because of heavy rain overnight into Thursday morning, morning-line favorite Nutello and co-second program picks Rahystrada and Temeraine. were scratched from the nine-horse field. Originally set for the turf course at 1 1/2 miles, the Sycamore was moved to the synthetic main track and lengthened to 1 5/8 miles.
Najjaar, trained by Daniel Peitz, stalked the pace being set by Reflecting and Nutello's stablemate Eagle Poise. Owned by Shadwell Stable, Najjaar joined front runners Eagle Pose, the 2-1 favorite, and 7-2 second pick Tricky Hat up front at the top of the stretch.
Those three along with Suntracer battled through the stretch. Najjaar was able to gain a slight advantage nearing the wire and posted a three-quarter length victory over Eagle Poise.
"Great trip. Saved all the ground. Rode to instructions perfectly by Danny Peitz," Graham said. "Got through on the inside. He quickened up smartly. (The win was) pretty handy."
Tricky Hat finished third followed by Suntracer, Olympic Thunder and Reflecting.
The time for the 1 5/8-mile Sycamore was 2:41.49 on Keeneland's Polytrack main surface.
"I didn't really know what to expect (after the race was moved from turf to the main track)," Peitz said. "The only time he'd run on the Polytrack was in his (third start, in October 2011 at Keeneland). He was a fast-closing second that day. We thought he'd handle it. He's trained all summer long on it."
Sent off at 9-2, Najjaar earned $60,000 with the win and stopped a nine-race losing streak. The 4-year-old colt recorded his first win of the year in seven starts. Along with two seconds and a pair of thirds, Najjaar has banked $146,093 in 2013.
The son of 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil was coming off a third-place finish in the American St. Leger Stakes at Arlington Park. Earlier, he was fourth in the Arlington Handicap behind Rahystrada, third in the Louisville Handicap and seventh in the Razorback Handicap.
Najjaar returned $11.80, $5.40 and $3.40. Eagle Poise paid $3.60 and $2.60, and Tricky Hat paid $2.80 to show.