June 24, 2012
The first graded stakes on the card was the $200,000 Highlander Stakes (G2) presented by Pizzaville for older horses sprinting 6 furlongs on the turf, a very early prep for the Nearctic Stakes (G2). Surfrider, an allowance winner at Belmont last out after finishing 5th in the Shakertown (G3) at Keeneland, was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 9 over 2-1 Fiddlers Patriot and 9-2 Gypsy Ring. Jockey Jesse Campbell sent 6-1 Essence Hit Man to the lead and he set fast fractions of 21.93 and 43.83 over the firm course while stalked by 18-1 Artic Fern. Essence Hit Man opened up a 2 1/2 length lead midstretch through 5/8 in 55.33, but 18-1 Smokey Fire, 8th early, closed with a rush to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:07.77, just 0.38 seconds off the course record. It was just a nose back to late-running Gypsy Ring third.
Results chart from DRF