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Solid field of Nine for Crafty Drone

Leading into a weekend highlighted by the Robert F. Carey Memorial, Wednesday will feature a solid group of nine for the $40,000 Crafty Drone Stakes. An excellent turf horse in the 1970s, Crafty Drone won multiple turf stakes, including the Oil Capitol Stakes here at Hawthorne for trainer Richard Hazelton. This five-furlong turf event is the spotlight of what proves to be a nice nine-race card.

The morning-line favorite in this feature is Vinnie's Boy. The four-year-old gelding trained by Bret Calhoun comes off of a neck victory in the Taylor's Special at Arlington on September 30. Laying near the back of the pack early on, jockey Donnie Meche found room in the stretch as Vinnie's Boy rolled down the lane for the victory. In his career, Vinnie's Boy has won five times from 20 starts, but has another ten second or third place finishes on his resume. Three-for-three on the board at today's five-furlong distance, he figures to be in the thick of things at the wire again today. Donnie Meche gets the return ride on the 3-1 morning-line favorite.

The second choice in this field is Coup. A five-year-old gelding by Badger Land, Coup has proven to be a solid turf sprinter in his career. A winner only three times in 16 turf efforts, Coup has hit the board in 11 of his turf tries and comes off a second-place finish to Vinnie's Boy in the Taylor's Special. That effort was much different from Coup's previous starts as he found himself last in the field of ten when the gates sprung. Weaving his way through traffic, Coup came charging down the lane only to be beaten a neck by Vinnie's Boy. Earlie Fires gets the call on Coup.

On Sunday, it was Lady Gin who fired to the lead out of the gate to set a turf record for about five furlongs when she came home in :56.19. If anyone in this field is going to take the race gate to wire, it may be Sweet Baby James. Trained by Anthony Granitz, Sweet Baby James has shown excellent speed from the gate in six-furlong dirt sprints. Turning to the turf and shortening up in distance may play right into the hands of this five-year-old gelding. Eddie Razo Jr. is aboard Sweet Baby James.

The most experienced entrant in this field is Valene Farms, Yoto Speaks. Trained by Richard Scherer, Yoto Speaks has been sent post-ward 55 times in his career and has found the winner's circle in eight of those efforts. What's most impressive is that of those starts, he has hit the board in 30 of the 55 races. One that will be charging late, Yoto Speaks gets the services of jockey Frank Lovato Jr.

Rounding out the field for the feature is Nice N' Salty, Zoe Cadman; Distinctive Mr. B, Ramsey Zimmerman; Lil Charlie Too, Alfredo Juarez Jr.; Magic Doe, E.T. Baird; and Royal Tramp, Randall Meier.

Jockey/Trainer News and Notes

With the departure of perennial leader Mark Guidry to Kentucky, the race for leading rider is wide open. Only 17 days into the meeting, six riders are within five wins of the top. On the training end of things, Harvey Vanier went into Sunday with a one-win lead, but a trio of trainers are laying just behind him including Robert Irwin, Hugh Robertson and Janice Ely.





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