Saturday, December 29, 2007 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 29, 2007 . . . Junior College ran off with his second straight stakes win Saturday, drawing off to take the $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes at Turfway Park by 3 1/2 lengths. Three Twenty Three was second, a head better than the Argentina-bred sprinter Storm Marcopolo.
Junior College's Holiday Cheer score came six weeks after the 5-year-old gelding won the Bet On Sunshine Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Three Twenty Three broke first and was among four contenders, including Junior College, who vied for the lead early. Reigning Court tripped the quarter-mile timer at :22.05, but Junior College had the measure of the others by the half-mile mark and set all the remaining pace, clocking :45.06 and :57.25 before finishing the six-furlong race in 1:09.83.
"Junior College is a professional racehorse," said winning trainer Anthony Reinstedler. "He doesn't have to be on the lead. He takes everything in stride. He’s run on Polytrack twice before [in the fall of 2006] and didn't seem to handle it, but tonight he relished it. If he runs his race, he's in the winner's circle."
Ridden by Jesus Castanon, Junior College earned $29,760 in the Holiday Cheer to lift his career earnings to $325,446. He now has 10 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 21 lifetime starts. He is owned by Mjaka Stables and Elizabeth Lavin.
Junior College was sent off as the 2-1 second choice and paid $6.00, $3.80, and $2.80.
Sweetnorthernsaint, the 6-5 favorite who was making his first start since May, broke from the far outside post and raced very wide throughout, finishing sixth. "He felt good under me," said jockey Victor Lebron. "When I tried to get him over he didn't like the track coming back at him, so I put him where he was comfortable. He'll be a different horse next time."
The complete order of finish in the Holiday Cheer was Junior College, Three Twenty Three, Storm Marcopolo, U D Ghetto, Raedonald, Sweetnorthernsaint, Carnacks Choice, Reigning Court, and Awesome Hero. Markum and Star by Design were early scratches, Dooze and Banbury Cross were late scratches, and Big Rushlet did not draw in off the also-eligible list and was scratched.
Racing at Turfway continues daily at 1:10 pm through New Year’s Day. The track is closed January 2, and the Winter/Spring Meet then continues January 3 through April 3, with first post at 1:10 pm on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday and at 5:30 pm on Friday nights.
Turfway adds Monday to its regular simulcast schedule in January. Gates open at 11:15 am Wednesday through Monday for simulcasting.