Emerging stayer come Play With Me rounded out his winter campaign on a high after claiming the Listed Belmont Classic (2200m) at Belmont on Saturday.
It was Come Play With Me’s fourth consecutive victory and his second feature race success after taking out the Listed Aquanita Stakes (2000m) two weeks earlier.
Validating hot $1.80 favouritism, the Adam Durrant-trained gelding, ridden by Peter Knuckey, defeated State Prosecutor by a half-length.
Habesha ran a distant third, picking up a Listed placing at her fourth start for trainer Justin Warwick.
Come Play With Me worked home strongly from fourth position at the turn and grabbed the lead from State Prosecutor over the final stages.
The runner-up tried valiantly after hitting the front at the top of the straight, but couldn’t withstand the superior finishing burst of the winner.
Durrant said Come Play With Me had taken giant strides since finishing seventh when he launched his campaign at Geraldton earlier in April.
“After his first-up run when he ran near last at Geraldton I was questioning my judgement,” Durrant said.
“I wasn’t feeling confident with one of the best three-year-olds that I have ever had.
“I thought we were in a bit a pain or the worst judges.
“He has done a really good job this guy after a few set-backs and that is the sign of a good horse.
“He will go out for three months now and have a well-deserved rest.
“I am confident there is a good race in him, but he will miss the Ascot carnival.
“Maybe a Pinjarra Cup, a Bunbury Cup, an Adelaide Cup or a Mornington Cup are the options we have got.
“I think he has the attributes to go on.”
Come Play With Me and stable mate Battle Torque, who earlier charged home from last, gave Durrant an iron grip on his seventh Perth Trainer’s premiership.
With two meetings remaining before the 2017-2018 racing season draws to a close, Durrant advanced 69 winners, seven clear of Grant and Alana Williams.
Come Play With Me gave Durrant his third Belmont Classic after wins to Lords Ransom (2007) and Summah’s Touch.