Desert Party returns to win LeVine
Updated: June 26, 2010, 6:02 PM ETBy Mike Farrell | Daily Racing Form
Desert Party rolled to a 3 1/2-length win over longshot Uncle Gidge on Saturday in the $200,000 Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park. It was the first U.S. start for the 4-year-old Desert Party since he finished 14th in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. He was the first of Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Godolphin stakes performers from last year to return to the races since shipping back to North America from Dubai in April. Desert Party got his second U.S. stakes win, having captured the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga in 2008. Following the Derby, he needed surgery to remove an ankle chip and was off the remainder of the year. Over the winter, he raced twice in Dubai, winning the $200,000 Mahab Al Shimaal on March 4 before finishing 11th of 14 in the Godolphin Mile. Both of those races were run over the Tapeta synthetic surface at Meydan. David Cohen was aboard as Desert Party improved to 6 for 10 in the LeVine. He paid $6.20 to win as the second choice. The time was 1:22.04 for the seven furlongs on a fast track. Strasbourg set the early pace, with Uncle Gidge, the longest price in the race at 18-1, following closely in second. Uncle Gidge forged to the front midway on the turn, while Desert Party had to bide his time in traffic until an opening materialized. Once angled clear, Desert Party eagerly bounded to the lead to finish a wrapped-up winner. Mannington got third, followed by Riley Tucker, Cherokee Country, and Strasbourg. The out-of-the-money finish by Riley Tucker ended trainer Steve Asmussen's remarkable run at Philadelphia Park. He had 9 wins and 2 seconds from his previous 11 starters at the meet. Riley Tucker was the even-money favorite following a two-length win in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs. The scratch of Cristiano reduced the field to six.