Saturday, April 1, 2006 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . April 1, 2006 . . . Trainer James Jackson took the hands-off approach with Gallant Secret in the $50,000 Fairway Fun Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, and she thanked him with a win.
“James [Graham] rode her once before for me and that time I told him to keep her up there a little close because I was worried about the speed,” said Jackson. “This time I told James to get her back as far as he wanted to and let her make her one run. She don’t want to be rushed. She’s got that run. She wants to run at the horses. If you rush her and get her up too close—can’t get nothing.
“Last time I messed it up. This time I told James, ‘Do what you want—don’t listen to me,” laughed Jackson.
“Last time” with Graham aboard was the Grade III Dogwood Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs last June. Gallant Secret finished sixth then, but the change in strategy helped her win the Fairway Fun.
Starting from the 11 post, Gallant Secret broke last and lingered near the back of the full field as Quite a Ruckus took the lead under pressure from Darling Daughter and Unbridled Echo. Ella Belle, the 5-2 favorite, sat easily in fourth and challenged in the stretch but hit her limit for the day with about half a furlong to go. In the meantime, Graham had Gallant Secret ready to roll.
“I let her find herself,” said Graham. “I wasn’t asking her to do anything—just weaving through traffic, looking for room. I know she doesn’t like being buried down in there. I just got her comfortable, and then halfway around the second turn I knew I had them, because they weren’t going anywhere and they hadn’t moved. They were just running. She sat real good, took me along. I swung her out and she came a-running. She finished like a train.”
Sweeping around the outside about five wide, Gallant Secret finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of runner-up Cape Hope, who had earlier angled out for a closing run of her own. Quite a Ruckus finished a determined third at 40-1, another 3/4-length back. Following Quite a Ruckus’s steady fractions of :23.25 and :47.50, Gallant Secret finished the 1 1/16-mile Fairway Fun in 1:46.03.
Fifth choice at 6.50-1, Gallant Secret paid $15.00, $7.20, and $6.00. Bred and owned by James and Martha Fortney’s Elkhorn Oaks Inc., Gallant Secret now has 5 wins, 3 seconds, and 5 thirds from 19 starts. The Fairway Fun put her over the quarter-million mark, pushing her career earnings to $267,288.
Completing the order of finish were Tru Attitude, who also closed from far back; Ella Belle; Character Builder; Tappin for Gold; Wendy’s On to Me; Casuarina; Unbridled Echo; Darling Daughter; and Age of Mythology.
Racing continues Sunday at 1:10 p.m. Turfway is dark Monday and Tuesday and then finishes the Winter/Spring Meet with nine-race cards on Wednesday and Thursday.