Saturday, September 16, 2006 12:00 AM
Time is fourth track record this week
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 16, 2006 . . . Level Playingfield won the $75,000 Marfa Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday in typical hold-your-breath style, rolling relentlessly from last to win by 1 3/4 lengths in record time.
"You know he's going to run that way so you kind of prepare yourself," said winning trainer Bob Holthus.
The win was the second consecutive Marfa Stakes victory for Level Playingfield and the second time he used the race to set the track record for 6 1/2 furlongs. The final time for this year's running was 1:16.58, down from his 1:17.08 mark in the 2005 Marfa.
Caller One set the pace at :22.24 and :44.70 before fading in the stretch, giving Level Playingfield and winning jockey John McKee exactly the script they wanted.
"He's the type of horse that needs pace in front of him, and he gives 110 percent every time he goes out there," said McKee. "The pace was pretty quick and it set up for us. I figured they'd fade down the lane, and he picked up the pieces. He did his job. He's a pretty smart horse. He knows what he's doing out there. I've never known him to throw a bad race."
Smalltown Slew closed as well, running just ahead of Level Playingfield at the back of the field but settling for second. Yucatan put his head in front at the top of the stretch but couldn't hold off the closers and finished a head farther back in third.
Completing the order of finish were Junior College, Man Of Illusion, Caller One, Old Deuteronomy, Exciting Metro, and Raedonald, who ran in three shoes. Sterling Gold was an early scratch.
A five-year-old gelding, Level Playingfield was the 3-1 favorite and paid $8.40, $4.20, and $2.80.
Beginning with the 2004 Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3), Level Playingfield is now a perfect 3-for-3 at Turfway. He has 9 wins, 9 seconds, and 10 thirds in 38 career starts for earnings of $597,762, and Holthus plans to take him next to the Phoenix Breeders' Cup (G3) at Keeneland. Level Playingfield was bred in Kentucky by Briland Farm and is owned by Fly Racing LLC.
Level Playingfield's record was the fourth set at Turfway this week. On Wednesday Slew Peg set a new mark for the mile at 1:36.37, and on Thursday Unleash the Power set the 5 1/2 furlong mark at 1:04.44, a record that stood just 24 hours before Calculating Man covered the same distance in 1:04.18 on Friday.
Live racing continues at Turfway on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. During September, the track is open for simulcasting every day.