Saturday, December 15, 2007 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 15, 2007 . . . Kettle Hill scored his first career stakes win at Turfway Park Saturday, taking the $50,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths. Drilling for Oil, making his first start since May, was second. Sea of Trees was third, another 2 3/4 lengths back.
Jockey Billy Troilo settled the big-striding Kettle Hill in the clear a couple of lengths behind the leaders and let him make his own way down the backstretch. Drilling for Oil, the 8-5 favorite, took a brief early lead before settling off the pace toward the inside and later angling out in the stretch for his run. Kettle Hill came to the leaders leaving the backstretch, moved steadily on the outside to take the lead leaving the final turn, and had straightened for the run for the wire before Troilo asked him to go.
"We were going along really comfortable," said Troilo. "I was happy with my position and happy I didn't have to ask him to get there. I didn't want to ask him too soon because in his past races it looked like he'd make a little run, but sometimes going a mile and an eighth he'd level off and just get caught. At Keeneland he opened up two lengths and got caught, and last time it looked like he was going to blow by them and he just hung there. So I waited as long as possible. He's so big and he has such a long stride that it doesn't feel like he's going anywhere, but he's picking up a lot of ground."
Final time for the 1 1/8 mile Prairie Bayou was 1:50.84 after moderate fractions. The win brought Kettle Hill"s record to 3 firsts, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds in 14 lifetime starts, all but two on turf or Polytrack. The 3-year-old gelding, a son of Pleasant Tap, increased his earnings to $151,986 for owners Randall Bloch, Phil Milner and Keith Basso. Ian Wilkes is the winning trainer.
Kettle Hill was the bettors' third choice at 4-1 and paid $10.80, $3.80, and $2.80.
Completing the order of finish in the eight-horse field were Acts Like a King, Sahmmy Davis Jr., Self Made Man, Bailador (IRE), and Holding Court (IND). Bawdens was an early scratch. With a morning storm impeding shipping to the track, expected favorite Slew’s Tizzy, 2006 winner Sidcup, and Catman Running were late scratches.
Racing resumes at Turfway Sunday at 1:10 pm.