Saturday, February 19, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Feb. 19, 2011 – Max Silverhammer banged out his first stakes win Saturday at Turfway Park, taking the $50,000 Dust Commander Stakes by three-quarters of a length over the fast-closing Wealth to Me. Baryshnikov was another length back in third. Final time for the one-mile Dust Commander was 1:40.09.
"[Trainer] Bill [Denzik Jr.] said if he breaks well, leave him there, but don't take him back,” said winning jockey John McKee. "That's exactly what I did. If you take him back, you're asking him to do more than he's supposed to. I let him break and he put me in the race right away, so I let him be comfortable right where he was. Turning for home I called on him and he was there."
Breaking from post three, Max Silverhammer found a comfortable spot inside and raced in fourth through half, less than three lengths off Edisto Beach, who set the quarter marks at :25.13, :48.59, and 1:13.61 before dropping back. After six furlongs Max Silverhammer was still fourth but less than a length off the lead. At McKee's urging he made a quick move up the rail to take a daylight lead with a furlong to go and then held off Wealth to Me, who trailed the field of eight through half the race and closed the gap late. Baryshnikov raced in sixth about four lengths off the leader before making up ground out of the second turn and into deep stretch.
Behind Baryshnikov came Dynamite Bob, Timeless Fashion, Ordination, Edisto Beach, and Kabob. Timeless Fashion, the 6-5 favorite, broke from the inside post, was taken back after being squeezed in the first turn, and never got into the race.
Fourth choice at 8-1, Max Silverhammer paid $19.60 to win, $8 to place, and $6.60 to show.
A four-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding owned by Desk Farms LLC, Max Silverhammer is by Wild and Wicked out of the Dixieland Band mare Dixie Dos. He has five wins, three seconds, and three thirds in 16 career starts. The $30,070 winner's share of the Dust Commander purse is the richest paycheck of his career and boosted his lifetime earnings to $125,499.
On hand to present the trophy was Mike Manganello, now a racing steward at River Downs and the winning jockey in the 1970 Kentucky Derby aboard Dust Commander.
Racing continues at Turfway on Sunday and again on Monday, a 10-race live card on Presidents Day. First post both days is 1:10 p.m.