Harold Lerner, LLC, AWC Stables and Nehoc Stables’ PAT ON THE BACK moved to the front in midstretch and inched clear to a half-length victory in Saturday’s $300,000 Kelso H. (G2) at Belmont Park. The five-year-old chestnut endured the one-turn mile over a fast main surface in 1:33.97 while registering his initial graded stakes triumph. The son of Congrats also put himself in the discussion to contest the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on November 2.

Prince Lucky, the 6-5 favorite in the field, was well clear in second while True Timber was three lengths behind that one while garnering show honors.

Pat on the Back is three-for-four this campaign and joined the millionaire’s club following his Kelso score. The chestnut recorded a 98 BRIS Speed figure for his work on Saturday, and he has been a consistently good performer since the summer of 2018.

At Parx on Saturday, Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners, LLC’s COAL FRONT returned to the winners’ circle with a measured tally in the $153,500 Parx Dirt Mile S. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of Stay Thirsty clocked the mile in 1:37.53 over the fast surface under the guidance of Mike Smith.

Diamond King was second best, with Forewarned coming from off the pace to be a solid third.

Coal Front improved his lifetime mark to 8-for-12 following his recent win. The five-time graded stakes standout earned his biggest trophy to date when annexing the Godolphin Mile (G2) in March on the Dubai World Cup card. He is likely to target the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile as a logical contender.

Here is my current top six in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile division:

  1. Catalina Cruiser — Once-beaten Sadler pupil is three-for-three in 2019
  2. Improbable — PA Derby (G1) fourth seems like an ideal fit for the Dirt Mile
  3. Coal Front — Pletcher pupil was back to his best over the weekend
  4. Mind Control — Jerkens S. (G1) hero showed a new dimension at Saratoga
  5. War of Will – Preakness (G1) winner was a game third at Parx on Saturday for Casse
  6. Pat on the Back — Underrated NY-bred continues to run big races

Coal Front winning the Parx Dirt Mile on September 21, 2019 (c) Bill Denver/Equi-Photo