Avies Copy took the lead for good on the first turn and held off a rally on the far outside by Proudest Duke to narrowly win the 43rd running of the $500,000 Jersey Derby Monday at Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, N.J.
The victory was the first stakes win for Avies Copy, the surprising third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, and earned him a trip to the Belmont Stakes on June 6 if he is healthy.
Avies Copy won the 1-mile race in 2:03 2/5. The 3-year-old son of Lord Avie broke from the rail and was put on the lead by jockey Mickey Solomone on the first turn.
He stayed there on the backstretch and then had to fight off a challenge for the lead by Fast Forward and favored Simply Majestic at the half-mile pole.
After putting those two horses away, Avies Copy opened up a five-length lead on the homestretch turn, and only Proudest Duke, ridden by Odin Londono, challenged on the outside. Proudest Duke closed with every step but fell a half length short with Templar Hill another 10 lengths farther back. Simply Majestic finished fifth.
Gulch, the only 3-year-old in the field, rallied on the outside for a neck victory over King's Swan and survived a foul claim to win the $601,500 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.
The victory put Gulch, who finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness, into the picture for the Belmont Stakes.
"He'll probably run back in the Belmont," trainer LeRoy Jolley said. "We'll decide in a couple of days."
The one-mile Metropolitan was more to Gulch's liking. With Pat Day aboard, the son of Mr. Prospector covered the distance in 1:34 4/5 under 110 pounds as the light-weight in the field of nine.