Saturday, March 21, 2009 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 21, 2009 . . . Walts David Stable LLC's Turfiste garnered his second straight stakes victory, leading from start to finish in the $50,000 Hansel Stakes to score by a length over the fast closing King Puma, who was the 3-2 race favorite.
The winning rider was Julien Leparoux, who earned his second straight stakes riding victory after also guiding Just for Keeps to win the Queen Stakes. Leparoux was a late replacement for Victor Lebron, who took off his mounts after a spill in the day's third race.
After a brief scramble for the early lead, Turfiste quickly gained command from his rail post position and then set blistering fractions of :21.55 for the quarter and :44.57 for the half. Turfiste had just enough left to hold off King Puma, who was a distant third during the early stages. Final time for the six-furlong event was 1:10.10.
"He had the speed to be put into the race," said Leparoux. "We were right in front the whole time. He was a little rank, but he kept on going. He [King Puma] came at me late, but he didn’t even pass me after the wire."
"Track's fast," said King Puma's trainer Kelly Breen, who will saddle West Side Bernie in the Lane's End Stakes. "I think at a mile and an eighth it'll catch those guys a little bit. He made a nice effort. You know, they went 44 and 2 and he kept on going a little bit. Track’s fast."
A homebred 3-year-old son of Military, Turfiste returned $15.40, $6.20, and $4.60. He came in to the Hansel off a win going 5 1/2 furlongs on grass in the $60,000 Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds in New Orleans on January 31.
The order of finish in the Hansel: Turfiste, King Puma, He Ain't Right, Phosphorescent, Shanes Gold, Rudy Flyer, Music City and Kentuckysoldierboy.