Saturday, March 23, 2013 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., March 23, 2013 – The bettors at Turfway Park and elsewhere made Crop Report the 3-5 favorite in Saturday's Team Valor Rushaway Stakes (listed), but the colt took nearly the entire race to prove them right despite the addition of blinkers.
Crop Report broke last in the field of six and stayed last through nearly six furlongs of the 1 1/16 mile race, running nine lengths behind the :23.76 quarter-mile pace set by Divine Ambition and still seven lengths off that leader at the 47.97 half-mile mark. After six furlongs he was still lingering five lengths back, with time to win diminishing fast.
But win he did, finally getting into gear to pass Divine Ambition with a half-furlong to run. He finished a length and three-quarters ahead of that rival, who was three lengths clear of Red Wings in third.
Crop Report’s winning time was 1:45.66. The effort paid $3.20, $2.20, and $2.10.
"He proved today that he can run, but I was kind of worried when we passed the three-eighths pole," said winning jockey Joel Rosario. "I was concerned coming around the far turn because it took a while for him to get going. But when he started running, he just went. At the top of the stretch he was moving a lot better than the horse on the inside (Divine Ambition). After that I just let him get it together."
"I was a little concerned," said David Rock, assistant to trainer Graham Motion. "The horse gave himself a lot to do. We hoped he would show a little more speed, but we knew he would finish up. He's European and he's a big horse, so maybe the gate's a little small to him."
The owner of Crop Report is Team Valor, who came on board this year as the Rushaway's first sponsor. The win gave Team Valor founder and CEO Barry Irwin the unique privilege of presenting the trophy to himself.
"It’s pretty weird," said Irwin of finding himself on both sides of the presentation. "This is the first time I’ve ever sponsored a race and it was fun. I think we’ll do it again."
Of Crop Report's effort, Irwin said, "I don't know if he did improve today, to tell you the truth. We’ve never had a horse like this. He's a May 31st foal (i.e., born late in the year). When he works in the morning, when he's in motion, he's as good as Animal Kingdom (Team Valor's 2011 Spiral Stakes and Kentucky Derby winner). But he's so immature and so klutzy away from the gate that he gives up 5, 7, 8 lengths at the start. He’s not going to make the Derby, but I think he’s an exciting prospect for a race like the Belmont."
While the Rushaway does not offer points toward the Kentucky Derby, Crop Report could earn his way in via the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, but Irwin is undecided about that option. "I don't know. We'll see how he comes back. He did kind of sharpen up since we put blinkers on him. But you saw him. He just isn't interested in the race in the beginning."
Behind Red Wings were Taking the Sloroad, J. J. Got Even, and Bet a Bundle. Star Contender, the morning line favorite, was scratched by trainer Mark Casse. Casse's other entry in the Rushaway, Honorable Guest, dropped his rider in the post parade, ran back to the barns, and was scratched by the stewards. Stormin Monarcho also was scratched by his trainer.
Bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm, Crop Report began his career with two turf starts at legendary Newmarket in England, the second a five-length win. He made his first start under Motion's care in the U.S. at Gulfstream, also on the turf, finishing third. Saturday's win improves his record to two wins and a third in four starts and brings his earnings to $57, 609. A son of Medaglia d'Oro, he is out of the Crafty Prospector mare Amarillo.