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Watts, Balance the Budget win in Tryon

Posted: April 17, 2017 4:12 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S MARK WATTS rode Balance the Budget to victory for trainer Julie Gomena (right) in Saturday’s feature at the Tyron Block House meet. The trio combined to win the $75,000 Carolina Cup in 2016

Stonelea Stables’ Balance the Budget, ridden by Camden resident Mark Watts, consistently runs strong races in the early spring, and he repeated that pattern Saturday in the $40,000 Tryon Block House, when he tracked the early pace, took over on the backstretch the final time, and held off a late challenge to notch a 3 3/4-length victory.

Stonelea is the racing operation of Kentucky horsewoman Nina Bonnie, and Balance the Budget is trained in Aiken by her daughter-in-law, Julie Gomena. They have had repeated success with Balance the Budget, an eight-year-old Bellamy Road gelding who won the 2015 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) at Aiken Spring, the year’s first jumps meet, and the 2016 Carolina Cup on the season’s second weekend.

Balance the Budget had his running shoes on for the Tryon Block House, a 2 1/4-mile race on a new course at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Columbus, N.C. Watts and his mount stalked the early pace of Hardrock Eleven while the remainder of a high-quality field spotted them 10 lengths.

Watts moved past the pacesetter on the backstretch the second time and opened 10 lengths on the rest of the field. Sheila Williams and Northwoods Farm’s Special Skills, a multiple stakes winner ridden by Sean McDermott, made a late move into the stretch but could not menace Balance the Budget.

Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, the 2015 novice champion, finished third, and Hardrock Eleven finished fourth.

Balance the Budget, who collected his first win since the 2016 Carolina Cup, completed the Tryon Block House’s 2 1/4 miles in 4:03.80 on firm turf.

Trainer Ricky Hendriks continued his hot start to the 2017 season by saddling a pair of winners in Tryon. Surprising Soul won the $35,000 Tyron Riding & Hunt Club allowance hurdle with Ross Geraghty on board while the Hendriks-conditioned Any Given Royal won the $25,000  Dr. John Bradshaw Memorial, a 1 ½-mile race on the flat with Geraghty in the irons.

The afternoon concluded with Camden’s Sue Sensor’s Top Striker winning the second division of the $25,000 Dr. John Bradshaw Memorial, a 1 ½-mile race on the flat. Trained in Camden by Arch Kingsley Jr. who gave Geraghty a leg up, the 2016 Colonial Cup winner and Eclipse Award finalist used the run as a tightener for its first start over fences this season which will come in Saturday’s $50,000 Temple Gwathmey in Middleburg, Va.



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