El Don has edged out High Bridge to give trainer Peter Gelagotis a second Bagot Handicap at Flemington while winning jockey Beau Mertens has joined his father on the honour roll.
Gelagotis won the Listed Bagot (2800m) in 2013 with Module and said he had a similar feeling about the chances of El Don leading into Wednesday’s staying feature after the gelding had figured in the placings in his past four starts.
Seven-year-old El Don ($17) settled fourth from barrier one and was able to get a run through at the top of the straight to start winding up.
The Chris Waller-trained High Bridge ($3.90) was able to take an inside run and sprinted quicker than El Don to hit the front but El Don kept rallying and lunged late to win by a short head.
Top weight Azuro ($13) had to change course at a crucial stage early in the straight before hitting the line strongly to finish another long neck away third.
“This horse has just been putting the writing on the wall in his last three or four runs with no luck whatsoever,” Gelagotis said.
“I loved the way he was taken on the other day and it looked like he was going to run a nice fourth, fifth or sixth but he picked himself up late and his last 100 metres was super (to finish third).
“On the way home I said to (brother) Manny and the crew, ‘this is a race that’s in our keeping’.
“I had the same gut feeling with Module when he won this race.”
Gelagotis said an inside barrier draw was a key and also the extra 300m from El Don’s most recent start.
“We needed every bit of the ground to get there but he’s got the job done,” he said.
It was a first Bagot Handicap win for 22-year-old Mertens, whose father Peter rode Western Outlaw to victory in the race 20 years ago and won it again aboard Reggie in 2007.