It took the length of the Ellis Park stretch, but Necker Island was able to split horses nearing the wire to get up in time to claim the $75,000 Jeff Hall Memorial Stakes at Ellis Park by a neck on Sunday, 24 July.
The victory marked the second Stakes score for the five-year-old horse by Hard Spun; he captured the Bet On Sunshine Stakes at Churchill Downs last year.
Sent off as the favorite in the field nine older runners, Necker Island stumbled at the start but was still able to track the early leaders closely while racing in fourth down along the rail. The handsome chestnut was tipped outside on the far turn, then had to battle rivals Robo Man, Tut’s Revenge and Bango the length of the stretch before finally breaking through nearing the wire to claim the victory.
Necker Island was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC. He is out of the Mr. Greeley mare, Jenny’s Rocket, a full sister to Stakes winner Greeley’s Rocket and a half to multiple Stakes winner, Laurie’s Rocket. Also found in the immediate family are Graded Stakes winners Adieu (G1), Rapport (G3) and Direct Line (G3).
Hard Spun is coming off a successful year which was highlighted by G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, Aloha West, who recently captured the Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs. The stallion is also represented by additional 2022 Stakes winners Exotic West, Sparkle Blue, Green Light Go and My Philly Twirl.