Saturday, December 3, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Dec. 3, 2011 – Fortune Play had the far outside post and raced widest down the backstretch, but she dug in to hit the wire first at Turfway Park Saturday, taking the $50,000 Holiday Inaugural Stakes by a head over Waccamaw. Hyperlink was another 2 1/2 lengths behind in third.
Pushed through half a mile by Five Star Fun, Waccamaw set a hot pace, marking the first quarter of the six furlongs in :22 flat, the half-mile in :45.21, and five furlongs in :57.93. Fortune Play raced close to the pace but wide to the top of the turn, and as Five Star Fun gave in, jockey Ramon Vazquez set Fortune Play down to challenge Waccamaw on the turn for home. Fortune Play wrested the lead away in deep stretch but Waccamaw came again, forcing Fortune Play to dig for more and give it a stride or two before the wire. Final time was 1:11.62.
The effort confirmed what owner/trainer John Booker Jr. believed about his 5-year-old mare.
"She came out of (the Pink Ribbon Stakes) in September with a little problem—her hoof was bothering her—and we got that fixed," Booker said. "She redeemed herself at Keeneland (finishing second in an optional allowance), then we had a little traffic trouble at Churchill (where she finished fourth in an optional allowance). Today she ran like the horse we thought she was.
"She was on the very outside of that whole big front pack and went widest around the turn, but Ramon said he had a lot of horse so he asked her and she responded. She ran very gutsy and it's just exhilarating."
Fortune Play was the bettors' fourth choice at 8-1 and paid $18.20, $8.60 and $7.40.
Behind Hyperlink were Leopard Rock, Miss Dora, Seeking Sheba, Five Star Fun, the 5-2 favorite Vanishing Grey, Helen Belen, Dances With Ashley, and Lady Primal. Dr. Diamonds Prize was scratched by her trainer. Eden Star and Groovitude did not draw in from the also-eligible list.
By Five Star Day out of Love Play, by Friendly Lover, Fortune Play was bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Stables. The Holiday Inaugural is her second stakes win; a neck victory in the Roxelana Stakes at Churchill in July was her first. She has earned $323,442 in 32 starts, including six wins, eight seconds, and five thirds.
Racing continues Sunday at Turfway with a 1:10 p.m. post.