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HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE
|Hawthorne Racecourse (10/2/04)
Contact: Jim Miller
Freefourinternet Upsets Perfect Drift in Hawthorne Gold Cup
STICKNEY, IL – The 2004 Hawthorne Gold Cup looked to be the wake up party for Perfect Drift as he and trainer Murray Johnson were both winless on the year and Perfect Drift hadn’t won since last year’s Gold Cup. Sent off at odds of 1-2, Perfect Drift looked the best on paper but after a speed duel early, it was the huge closing move of Freefourinternet that swooped by the field, winning the Grade 2 event.
Contested at one mile and a quarter over the Hawthorne main track, the $750,000 event had more than enough early pace as Powerful Touch, Quest Star and Perfect Drift all contested the pace. Covering the first quarter in :23.2, Quest Star held a slight lead into the turn while Powerful Touch and Perfect Drift laid close, but Perfect Drift was hung a bit wide into the turn.
After the half in :47.1 and three quarters in a quick 1:11.1, Perfect Drift assumed command under jockey Pat Day, while wide, with Powerful Touch being the first to drop back. Quest Star dug in for one more effort. As these three battled, the closers began to move with Sonic West coming into the picture and Freefourinternet, more than 25 lengths back early, charging on the outside. In the final 16th, Perfect Drift was hanging on for his life while Freefourinternet was rolling home fastest of all.
Crossing the wire and stopping the clock at 2:03.1, it was Freefourinternet and jockey Greta Kuntzweiler on top by 1¾ lengths. Perfect Drift was a laboring second while Sonic West rounded out the trifecta. Quest Star ran fourth, followed by Caiman, Kissin Saint and Powerful Touch.
Owned by Equirace.com LLC and trained by Michael Maker, Freefourinternet won for the eighth time from 32 starts and boosted his career earnings to $1,047,182.
Pulling off the big upset provided huge payouts as Freefourinternet returned $56.00, $7.00 and $2.10. Perfect Drift returned $2.20 and $2.10 while Sonic West returned $2.10 to show.
So in two starts for trainer Michael Maker and a pair of wins for jockey Greta Kuntzweiler aboard Freefourinternet, the question of what is next in line now. “We’re going to look at the Breeders’ Cup Classic next, possibly the Clark, at least that’s my plan. I will continue to use Greta.” And on the choice of this race, “There were about 750,000 reasons. I thought if we could finish in the money it would have been great. Greta rode a picture perfect race. We’ve had good luck together.”
On her biggest win of her career, jockey Greta Kuntzweiler was elated, “Basically, I’m just a passenger on this horse. He has a mind of his own. I asked him to get into the race a little bit and he just won’t do it. He won’t move until he’s ready. You just sit on him and then when he goes you get tied on.”
Kuntzweiler continued, “I couldn’t see Perfect Drift. It was my idea to keep tabs on him early but I was so far back I couldn’t find him. I think I caught them by surprise. I was really smoking in the stretch. The pace could have been faster. I thought I was riding him in a two-minute lick until about the 3-8’s pole. This was by far the biggest win of my career.”
As for Perfect Drift, the connections were a bit disturbed, “The horse isn’t really tired. It was just the way the race set up,” said trainer Murray Johnson. “He tends to just run with the others and doesn’t want to leave them. Pat (Day) didn’t want to send him away from the field and the other horse took advantage of that and swept by. He came on again when the other was by him but he doesn’t have really strong acceleration and couldn’t make up enough ground. The pace didn’t really set up and we were laying closer than we wanted to be. When you race in Grade 1’s you have genuine speed ahead of you but you don’t always get that when you step down.”
Jockey Pat Day expected a bit more from Perfect Drift as well, “Last year he was very responsive in the bridle. I just kicked a little and he responded gamely. Today when the horse ran by him and I called on him, he didn’t really fire. They didn’t come home that fast. As easy as we got there I really was expecting decided acceleration.”
Hawthorne races from September 24 through January 2. Racing is slated for five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday and four days a week in December, Thursday through Sunday with an option to run on Wednesdays. First post daily is 1:10 pm. Hawthorne can be contacted at 708-780-3700 or on the web at www.hawthorneracecourse.com.
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