Saturday, December 30, 2006 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 30, 2006 . . . Straight Line proved himself the even-money favorite for a reason in the $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, taking a perfect trip to an easy 2 1/2 length win. He finished the six-furlong race in 1:08.40, equaling the track record.
Skeleton Crew picked up the lead before the first quarter, with Smoke Smoke Smoke right behind him and Straight Line running a patient sixth. Guided by leading rider Miguel Mena, Straight Line made a confident move up the rail turning for home and quickly left his eight rivals behind. Smoke Smoke Smoke maintained second, a neck ahead of Sgt. Bert in third.
"He's a little bit temperamental about some things," said winning trainer Harvey Vanier, who has trained horses for 65 years. "He doesn't like to get stopped or in tight. If the rider has to take a very strong hold of him, he gets a little bit temperamental and sometimes packs it in a little. Today he had good running room. The rider did an excellent job putting him between horses so he didn't have to check him."
Completing the order of finish were Chief Export, Warrior Within, Buckeye Buddy, Skeleton Crew, Yankee Mon, and Hold the Salt. Eye for Glory and Nerinx scratched.
A four-year-old colt owned by Nancy Vanier and Cartwight Thoroughbreds LLC, Straight Line now has 10 wins and 4 seconds from 24 career starts. The Holiday Cheer boosted his career earnings to $486,137 and brought his stakes win total to five, including two Grade III victories. Straight Line paid $4.00, $2.40, and $2.60 for his work in the Holiday Cheer.
Racing continues Sunday and Monday at Turfway, with first post at 1:10 p.m. both days. The track is closed Tuesday and then resumes its regular Wednesday-Sunday schedule on January 3.