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An Awesome ending for Pearl and Norris
AWESOME PEARL AND JOCKEY Kieran Norris go to the outside of Kingdom, with Gus Dahl up, at the last fence in the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. - photo by Photo courtesy Joe Labozetta/NYRA
Gil Johnston’s Awesome Pearl, overlooked at 35-to-1 in the betting, surged through Saratoga Race Course’s stretch and won a down-to-the-wire battle with Kingdom in last Thursday’s $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes.Ridden by apprentice jockey Kieran Norris, Awesome Pearl prevailed by a nose after the deep-stretch battle with The Fields Stable’s Kingdom. Rock Ford Stables’ Sporty finished third, 6 1/4 lengths farther back, and Bill Pape’s Bluegrass Summer, the 2013 novice champion, was fourth in a talent-packed field of 10.Trained by Richard Valentine, Awesome Pearl ran the Jonathan Kiser’s 2 1/16 miles in 3:48.26 on a firm inner turf course. He paid $72 to win and triggered a $744 exacta with Kingdom, trained by Elizabeth Voss Murray.The attraction of a talented young newcomer to U.S. racing and hot jockey Ross Geraghty led Saratoga bettors to make Irv Naylor’s Saint Jerome the 2.30-to-1 favorite off an impressive record in England.

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