Saturday, January 1, 2005 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . January 1, 2005 . . . On the first day of his six-year-old campaign, in his first race for trainer Richard Kohnhorst, Deer Lake earned his first stakes win, taking the Holiday Cheer on New Year’s Day at Turfway Park.
Breaking from the middle of the 10-horse field, Deer Lake went right after the :21.94 pace set by Sgt. Bert, had the lead at the half-mile call in :44.63, and kept it to win by half a length over Private Horde, who closed fast on the outside for second. Saintly Look was 4 1/2 lengths back in third, passing Sgt. Bert, who stayed in for fourth. Final time for the six furlongs was 1:09.58 over a fast track.
Deer Lake’s performance emphatically negated his last outing, when he finished 10th in the Distorted Humor at Churchill Downs.
“He’s just got a lot of class,” said Kohnhorst of Deer Lake. “We freshened him a little bit after Churchill and just hoped he would show up like he did today. He was fresh enough that being that close didn’t bother me today. I figured he would be close.”
“Claiming a horse, you’re lucky to get a horse like this,” said Steve Fugitte, who with Stephen Howard claimed Deer Lake for $62,500 in November 2003. “He won a big allowance at Churchill, then ran third to Cajun Beat in the Mr. Prospector. Then he went a little bit wrong. We ran him over his head a little bit. He’s always been highly regarded—he went off at 4-1 against Speightstown [in the Artax Handicap]. I want to win races like this and give him a chance to be a stallion in Indiana or Ohio.” Deer Lake is by Meadowlake out of the Foolish Pleasure mare Dorothy Dear.
“We taught him to rate, but today we kind of let him be himself a little more because he ran that bad race last time,” Fugitte continued. “He’s just a pro. I wish I had a hundred more like him.”
The win was the third on the day for jockey Dean Sarvis, who Friday earned leading rider honors for the just-concluded Holiday Meet.
Deer Lake was the bettors’ third choice at 5-1 and returned $12.80, $4.80, and $3.20. Completing the order of finish were Elite Mercedes, Cynthiana’s Song, Blackinton, Truman’s Raider, Big Talking Man, and Edgerrin. Cat Tracker scratched.
Saturday was the first day of Turfway’s Winter/Spring Meet, which runs through April 7. Through the meet, racing begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and at 1:10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.