Saturday, December 1, 2007 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 1, 2007 . . . Mere inches separated win and place in the Holiday Inaugural Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, with the photo coming down in favor of jockey Terry Thompson and Fast Deal, a 4-year-old filly owned by Overbrook Farm. Lady Belsara was a nose behind in second, with the even-money favorite Mary Delaney half a length farther back in third.
With ground to make up from her far outside post, Mary Delaney broke first and angled over to gain position alongside Fast Deal, already on the lead with Littlebitabling to her outside. Heads apart, the three whistled through the first quarter in :21.83. Littlebitabling soon dropped back but Mary Delaney and Fast Deal flew stride for stride, clocking half a mile in :44.47. Mary Delaney put a head in front in the stretch, but Fast Deal battled right back. Lady Belsara, taken out of her front-running game by a slow break, came wide late and ate up the stretch to force the photo. Final time for the six furlong sprint was 1:09.77.
“When [announcer Mike Battaglia] said the first quarter was quick, it didn’t bother me so much because I thought they were getting position,” said winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas. “But when that 44 showed up on the board, I thought, ‘Oh, boy.’ It set up for a closer, but she ran gutsy. She came through the stretch pretty good. I thought the half-mile fractions would make it difficult to win, but she was tough and stayed with it.”
Fast Deal paid $17.60, $7.00, and $3.20 as the 7.80-1 third choice in the Holiday Inaugural. The victory was the first stakes win for the hard-working, well-traveled filly, whose career has taken her to seven tracks in four states. She now has 5 wins, 7 seconds, and 4 thirds in 31 starts and purse earnings of $237,318, including $29,450 for her work Saturday.
In fourth through 10th place were Modjadji, Humorous Gal, Miss A. Bomb, Trout River Red, Hidden Grove (GB), Ituna, and Littlebitabling. Milago, Miss Wellspring, and New Dimension scratched.
Racing continues at Turfway Sunday with first post at 1:10 pm Eastern. Also on Sunday, the track hosts its annual qualifier for the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, with the top three finishers bound for the national contest in January.