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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Maywood Park (10/23/09)
Contact: Tom Kelley
WELL TO DO GURU PULLS OFF THE UPSET
Brandon Simpson gets 1,000th career victory on Another Judy
The electrical problems and sloppy going did nothing to short circuit the chances of James Gorman’s Well To Do Guru as he rallied in the final strides to win the $40,000 Associates-Lester McKeever Stake in 1:54.4 at odds of 22-1.
Given a heady steer by Casey Leonard, the bay gelding was kept well off an early speed duel that was being waged by Booze Cruzin (Dale Hiteman) and Mucho Sleazy (Mike Oosting).
With those two speeding through suicidal splits of 26.4 and 54.4, Leonard finally got Well To Guru underway from seventh as the field hit the halfway point.
“I knew they were smoking along up on the front end so I wasn’t in a big hurry to get him going up to that point,” explained Leonard. “The only thing that did concern me was the fact the horse in front of us (Doubletrouble) was gapping pretty badly so I had to use my horse a little harder than I wanted to in order to catch up to our cover.”
Quickly latching onto the back of the hard-charging Thisbigdogwillfight (Dave Magee), Well to Guru was well positioned in fifth as Mucho Sleazy led the way by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:24.3.
“Once we caught up to Thisbigdogwillfight my horse just swelled right up for me,” said Leonard. “At that point I didn’t want to take a chance at trying to grind them down so I just let him continue on since he felt so good.”
Tipping three wide off his cover as the field turned for home, the Terry Leonard-trained son of Richess Hanover started to reel in Thisbogdogwillfight, who went right by a tiring Mucho Sleazy.
Gaining ground with each stride as the field moved through the lane, a determined Well To Do Guru finally managed to stick a nose in front of Thisbigdogwillfight just as the two hit the wire in a thrilling finish. Booze Cruzin battled back to finish third, 3 ¼ lengths behind the top pair.
The win was the fifth of the season for this homebred five-year-old who also has six seconds and five thirds to his credit this year, while enjoying his biggest season to date with more than $110,000 in earnings for his proud connections.
“He’s really matured into a very nice racehorse,” said a beaming Leonard. “Originally I had mapped out about 20 starts for him this year but he’s at 24 now and he still feels very good so I’m sure I’ll keep going with him for at least a couple more starts.”
Overlooked from post position seven, Well To Do Guru returned $47.40, $13.20 and $4.60 to those lucky enough to back him.
The 28-year-old Crete, Illinois resident sent the three-year-old pacing filly right to the top from post position eight and the issue was never in doubt as the two cruised under the wire in 1:58.3 over the sloppy track.
The always humble Simpson, who is fourth in the driver standings at Maywood and sits atop the driving colony at Balmoral Park, said afterwards that he really wasn’t thinking about reaching the milestone.
“Sure I’m happy to get to 1,000 wins but in all honesty I haven’t been thinking about it that much,” said a smiling Simpson. “I’m just happy to have the chance to come out here night after night and all I really concentrate on is doing my job to the best of my abilities.”
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