Saturday, March 25, 2006 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 25, 2006 . . . With well-regarded Derby hopeful Strong Contender eliminated from Turfway Park’s Lane’s End Stakes for lack of earnings, reporters, handicappers, and horsemen were left with a wide-open race full of question marks. Two who had no questions were Ron Peltz of Equirace.com and Michael Maker, the owner and trainer, respectively, of With a City, who upset the $500,000 Grade II race on Saturday and earned his way to the Kentucky Derby.
“Everybody told me I was crazy when I bought this horse privately for $150,000,” said Peltz, adding that he “just wrote a check” to nominate With a City to the Triple Crown.
“The Kentucky Derby has been the plan all along,” said Maker. “We might look at going to Arkansas and running in the derby down there.”
At 48-1 the longest shot in the field of 12, With a City and jockey Brice Blanc burst out of the pack to take Turfway Park’s showcase race by 1 1/4 lengths over Seaside Retreat. A third longshot, Malameeze, was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. More Than Regal’s fourth-place finish completed a superfecta that paid more than $19,000 for a ten-cent bet.
Coming out of the first turn, longshot Sharp Attack and Laity set moderate fractions, along with Starspangled Gator. Tahoe Warrior and With a City settled into comfortable positions along the rail. Turning into the stretch, 4-1 shot Superfly made a four-wide bid for the lead and Seaside Retreat moved five wide. Brice Blanc tipped With a City off the inside to split horses entering the stretch and was in full flight for the wire. Equipped with blinkers after a dull performance in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway, With a City outgunned Seaside Retreat to finish the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.11.
Irish-bred Silent Times, the 7-2 favorite who was making his first start in the U.S. and his first since September, was off slowly and never got into the race.
With a City returned $99.60, $38.20, and $17.00. The win payoff is the highest in Lane’s End history, besting the $81.60 returned by Good n’ Dusty in 1982.
The order of finish in the Lane’s End: With a City, Seaside Retreat, Malameeze, More Than Regal, Superfly, Hemingway’s Key, Pair of Kings, Sharp Attack, Tahoe Warrior, Laity, Silent Times (IRE), and Starspangled Gator.
High Cotton back in business
Trainer Todd Pletcher may be able to return High Cotton to his long list of Kentucky Derby candidates after the graded stakes-placed runner returned to sharp form in winning the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes.
Racing for Peachtree Stable, High Cotton ran second in both the Grade III Iroquois and the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in November, but in his three-year-old debut, an allowance race at Gulfstream, he stumbled at the start and finished last of 11 horses.
High Cotton was back in business in the Rushaway, however, as jockey Chris DeCarlo took him to the early lead and easy 2 1/4-length victory. Longshots Special Interest, a maiden from the D. Wayne Lukas barn, and Bear Character finished behind High Cotton. Final time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:45.19.
“Todd’s horses give 100% every time,” said DeCarlo. “He didn’t break as alertly as I would have liked, but I was able to secure good position by the turn and on the backstretch he was just cruising along”.
Michael Dilger, an assistant to Pletcher, was at Turfway to saddle High Cotton and said the colt will join Pletcher’s string at Keeneland Race Course.
The 3-1 second choice, High Cotton paid $8.80, $5.00, and $4.40. The Nick Zito-trained Fabled, the 5-2 favorite, saved ground throughout but could manage only a seventh-place finish for jockey Edgar Prado.
The order of finish in the Rushaway: High Cotton, Special Interest, Bear Character, New Awakening, Kings Challenge, Warrior Within, Fabled, Triptanic, In A Flash (IRE), Warwick Wonder, Mark of Success, and Fidrych.
Top Notch Lady wins U.S. debut
Making her first start outside Canada, Top Notch Lady and jockey Robby Albarado wore down front-running Coronado’s Vision to win the Grade III, $150,000 Bourbonette Breeders’ Cup for 3-year-old fillies.
Despite earnings of more than $219,000 in Canada, Top Notch Lady was dismissed at odds of 7-1 while claiming her fourth win in seven starts. Trained by Mark Casse, she remained close to the pace throughout and showed tremendous determination in catching Coronado’s Vision by a neck in the shadow of the wire. Lemons Forever closed with a rush to finish another 3/4 length back in third, and Sabatini, the 6-5 favorite, rallied for fourth.
Casse sent Top Notch Lady to Turfway Park early enough to get a breeze over the Polytrack surface. Jockey Robby Albarado was the beneficiary of the decision. “She got over the track great,” said Albarado.
Top Notch Lady paid $16.80, $6.20, and $4.80. Final time for the one-mile distance was 1:39.26.
The order of finish in the Bourbonette: Top Notch Lady, Coronado’s Vision, Lemons Forever, Sabatini, Capozzene, Classical Ryder, Champagne N Glory, Morethanawhisper, Lady Danza.
Skeleton Crew holds on in Hansel
Edwin Anthony’s Skeleton Crew turned back the challenge of 48-1 outsider Cognac Kisses and then held off Final Copy, the 8-5 favorite, to win the Hansel Stakes by a neck.
Ridden by Phil Teator, Skeleton Crew stalked the pace two wide before opening a short lead at the top of the stretch. First-time starter Cognac Kisses made a bold bid for the lead in the stretch but couldn’t get by the winner. Final Copy, who won the Turfway Park Prevue Stakes, closed with a furious rally to finish second. Final time for the six furlongs was 1:10.77.
Trained by Patrick Huffman, Skeleton Crew has now won three of five starts, all at Turfway. The son of Elusive Quality was turning back in distance after running fifth, beaten less than two lengths, in the John Battaglia Memorial.
Skeleton Crew returned $16.20, $6.20, and $4.20. Urban Guy, second choice at 9-5, finished fifth.
The order of finish in the Hansel: Skeleton Crew, Final Copy, Cognac Kisses, Creek Bay, Urban Guy, Miner’s Lamp, Neverbeendancin’, and Tax Credit.
Very Vegas very good in Queen
Very Vegas went after the early lead and held off strong closing moves by both Eastern Lily and Listen to win the Queen Stakes by a neck. Behind her, just a nose separated Eastern Lily in second from Listen in third. The win is Very Vegas’ third in four tries at Turfway, her lone loss a second behind the highly regarded Hot Storm.
“She relaxed really nicely on the lead,” said winning jockey Jesus Castanon. “At the 1/8 pole I knew the closers were coming and the horse to beat was number 6, Listen. My filly was really able to dig in and hang on.”
Trained by Nick Canani, Very Vegas was the 5-2 third choice and paid $7.00, $4.00, and $2.40. Final time for the six furlongs for fillies and mares was 1:11.44. Very Vegas is owned by Everest Stables Inc.
The order of finish in the Queen: Very Vegas, Eastern Lily, Listen, Triple Fantasy, Light Fling, Songfest, and Body by Katrina.