Saturday, January 1, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Jan. 1, 2011 – Western Prospector rewarded his connections' patience Saturday, taking the $50,000 Holiday Cheer at Turfway Park by 1-1/4 lengths over River Bear. Tend was a head farther back in third. Final time for the 6-furlong race was 1:10.58.
The Holiday Cheer was Western Prospector's first stakes attempt in 20 career starts, and it fell on his official fifth birthday.
"It just now got to the point where it was time to run him in a stakes race," said winning trainer Randy Matthews. "I'm kind of from the old school; we believe in running in allowance races as long as we can, and we just got through the conditions. We wanted to keep him with horses he felt confident with. He's been up and down and he has been kind of a mentally immature horse. He just now figured the game out. Hopefully he won't look back from here."
Less than three lengths covered all but one of the seven contenders as Silver Summation set the first quarter in :22.92 and Western Prospector sat comfortably in fourth. Western Prospector took over on the turn, marking the half in a quick :46.38, with River Bear following from fifth to take second. Tend, the 3-2 favorite, came wide and late from sixth to get third. Harlan Street, who trailed the field, gained fourth, followed by Silver Summation, Parioli’s Trick, and Golden Country.
Ben Creed was aboard Western Prospector for the first time in a race but already was well acquainted with the gelding. "Randy called my agent way before this race and said he wanted to ride me on this horse in this race," he said. "I've been working him his last two or three breezes, so I could get to know him and what I’d have under me. Immediately I could feel we got along. Randy said he'd never seen anyone get this horse to relax that much.
"He went so nice today—just relaxed so much. I had him falling asleep on the backstretch. He was loping along, nice and relaxed. Then we got to the quarter-pole and he just opened up and went on."
Western Prospector was the bettors' third choice at 5-2 and paid $7.80, $4.40, and $3.
A son of West Acre, Western Prospector has earned $200,209 for owner Chalee, Inc. and now has six wins, two seconds, and five thirds as he begins his fourth year of racing.
Racing continues Sunday at Turfway with post time at 1:10pm.