OB Harbor defeats Betrbegone by 1½ lengths, and denies Stryker Phd, who was third, from his third straight Budweiser Stakes win.

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A front-running O B Harbor denied Stryker Phd his third straight $50,000 Budweiser Stakes win at Emerald Downs on Sunday.

O B Harbor and Betrbegone led the field from the start of the mile race with Stryker Phd in a favorite spot in the middle of the pack. But this time, the 7-year-old gelding’s closing tactic failed to catch the leaders.

O B Harbor, with Jose Zunino riding, won in 1:34.73 and paid $6.20, $4.40 and $3. Betrbegone, ridden by Javier Matias, was a length-and-a-half behind and paid $15.60 and $8.60.

Stryker Phd returned $3 for show.

O B Harbor won the Governor’s Stakes on May 22 and with the win Sunday is heading toward the Longacres Mile on Aug. 14 as the horse to beat.

“I’ve never had a Mile horse,” said Jody Peetz, the owner of O B Harbor, “and it means the world to get him to this level — and it means he could be the Oregon Horse of the Year.”

With a 5-1-2 record in 10 starts, three straight wins and $105,691 in winnings, that’s probably a good bet for Peetz and her One Horse Will Do Corporation.

The Oregon breeder is Bret Christopherson, and the horse’s name stands for Oregon Bred Harbor, recalling the sire, Harbor the Gold, as well. The dam is Flying Memo by Memo.

But don’t count out Stryker Phd for the Mile. Sunday was the first time in eight stakes races he didn’t cross the wire first. He entered Sunday’s race No. 8 all-time in state earnings. Owned by Jim and Mona Hour, Stryker Phd, by Bertrando out of Striking Scholar, has won $525,581.

Jockey Leslie Mawing expects to be there Aug. 14 with Stryker Phd, trying for his third straight Mile win, something no horse has done.

“We had a good race, and I had him in the position where I wanted him,” Mawing said.

But catching the leaders was too much for Stryker on Sunday.

“Not taking anything away from O B Harbor,” Mawing said “Look at the fractions, he didn’t stop.”

The first quarter mile went in 23.26 seconds, the half mile in 45.70 and three quarters at 1:09.96.

“It was our first run since September,” Mawing said, “so we’ll be all right.”

Chris Stenslie, trainer for O B Harbor, said she was not sure if her horse would compete at a mile and one-sixteenth in the Mount Rainier Stakes on July 17, the next step toward the Mile for 3-year-olds and up.

“I have no problem resting him until the Mile, but if he gets too aggressive, we may race him.”

The Mile, she said, was for sure.