Saturday, March 21, 2009 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 21, 2009 . . . Unraced since last November, Hold Me Back made his 3-year-old debut a memorable and lucrative one, closing from next to last under Kent Desormeaux to win the Grade II, $500,000 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday in convincing fashion over the D. Wayne Lukas-trained long shot Flying Private. The margin of victory was 1 3/4 lengths.
Long shot Orthodox set the early pace, laying down early fractions of :23.71 for the quarter, :47.84 for the half, 1:12.43 for three quarters. Turning for home, Orthodox was quickly passed by Proceed Bee, Flying Private and Parade Clown. But none of those three could hold off the oncoming rush of Hold Me Back. After a slow start that landed him in 11th position early, Hold Me Back commenced a sustained rally approaching the far turn and swung six wide straightening out for the stretch. He caught Flying Private at the sixteenth pole and drew clear at the finish. Proceed Bee was four lengths farther back in third. Final time for the nine furlongs was 1:49.63.
"I thought I was hopelessly beaten the second the doors opened," said Desormeaux. "He just stood there, and it worked out really well in the end because closers perform so much better on it [Polytrack]."
After the slow start, however, Desormeaux knew he had a lot of horse under him. "He carried me around the racetrack in great fashion, strong, in the bridle, continued to move forward, and I allowed him to do that passing the half-mile pole and just collected the frontrunners continually until we made the lead," Desormeaux said.
Trained by Bill Mott, Hold Me Back gained his third win from four career outings. Each of those three wins came over all-weather surfaces, with the lone blemish on his record coming in his only dirt start in the Remsen Stakes last time out in November at Aqueduct. The Giant's Causeway colt finished fifth that day behind Old Fashioned.
Hold Me Back earned $282,000 for his owners, WinStar Farm. Those graded earnings should be sufficient to lock up a starting position in the Kentucky Derby. Prior to today, Hold Me Back had just $6,000 in graded earnings from his fifth-place finish in the Remsen.
"The Derby is definitely our plan, but we'll let the horse and Bill [Mott] tell us if that is the right place, said WinStar Vice President Elliott Walden. “Our goal is the Derby every year."
Walden is not sure whether Hold Me Back will go straight to the Derby or start once before then.
"We'll let Bill make the call, but I would think we'd probably go straight into the Derby," Walden said. "But the Blue Grass is also a nice race to win."
There were no excuses from the Flying Private camp. "I got a perfect trip," said rider Israel Ocampo. "I settled down exactly where I wanted to be down the backside. For a second I thought I was going to get the job done, but that other horse came flying."
West Side Bernie and Bittel Road were each sent off at 2-1, but West Side Bernie was the slight betting favorite. Neither made an impact, with West Side Bernie finishing sixth and Bittel Road 10th.
"I'm going to watch the replay," said a disappointed Kelly Breen, trainer of West Side Bernie. "It seemed like—we tried to push him a little bit early [because of the way speed was playing] and the jockey [Edgar Prado] said he sort of resented it. We'll put our heads together and see what we’re going to do."
Sent off as the 9-1 fourth betting choice, Hold Me Back returned $20.20, $9.40, and $7.40.
The order of finish in the Lane's End: Hold Me Back, Flying Private, Proceed Bee, Parade Clown, Jack Spratt, West Side Bernie, Bruce N Autumn, A. P. Cardinal, Loch Dubh, Bittel Road, Orthodox and Dynamite Bob.