Maywood Park (8/27/10)
Contact: Tom Kelley
SPORTS FANATIC IN EGYPTIAN STAKE SHOCKER
Trips can mean everything on a half-mile oval and that was exactly the case on Friday night as Bruce Pacitti and O’Toole Racing’s Sports Fanatic took advantage of a ground-saving journey throughout the mile to spring a 16-1 upset in the $30,000 Egyptian Stake at Maywood Park. The final time was a very respectable 1:51.4 in this Illinois conceived and foaled test.
|Sports Fanatic (#3) hustled through on the inside of horse to pull off the upset in Friday's $30,000 Egyptian Stake at Maywood Park.|
Getting away third in the nine horse field, driver Art Gregory Jr. had the roan six-year-old perfectly positioned as Well To Do Guru (Casey Leonard) battled a hard leaving Fort Silky (Marcus Miller) through an opening quarter of 26.2.
“I knew the top two would be leaving hard and then when I saw Marcus flying out of there I just wanted to make sure I got my horse away in a good spot and in front of the trailing horse since we had nine in this field,” explained Gregory. “Once we settled in and headed for the quarter I couldn’t have been happier about where we were sitting.”
Continuing to take the short way around the half-mile oval, the Bruce Pacitti-trained son of Sportsmaster was sitting fourth as Well To Do Guru continued to show the way, with the heavy favorite Thisbigdogwilfight (Todd Warren) sitting right on his back as the state-bred pacers rolled by the half-mile mark in 55.1.
Approaching the three-quarter-mile mark Well To Do Guru continued to show the way, but he was now under heavy pressure from the 2/5 favorite Thisbigdogwilfight who had vacated the pocket. That allowed Gregory to send Sports Fanatic into perfect striking position right behind the leader as the field hit the three-quarter-mile station in 1:23.2.
“I was pretty surprised when I saw Todd pull from the two-hole heading into that last turn,” said Gregory. “I figured that was perfect for me though and I sent my horse right up through the hole. I knew Casey’s horse (Well To Do Guru) would be strong enough to carry me to the top of the stretch.”
Moving around the final bend Well To Do Guru and Thisbigdogwilfight continued to battle it out, while Sports Fanatic spied all the action from the pylons while sitting third. Mucho Sleazy (Mike Oosting) was also gobbling up ground on the far outside of horses, setting up an exciting stretch drive.
After patiently waiting for room in the passing lane, Gregory moved the good-looking gelding to the inside and the 22-time career winner responded beautifully, charging home in 27.4 to win by a neck. Mucho Sleazy was a hard fought second while Thisbigdogwilfight was forced to settle for the show dough.
In the winner’s circle a beaming Gregory was singing the praises of Sports Fanatic.
“After the trip we had I knew I had plenty of horse left for the stretch drive,” said Gregory. “It was awfully tight at the wire and I wasn’t sure we had won but this horse always gives it his all. He’s got his problems and is probably a little better on a bigger track but once he gets to top speed he really smoothes out just like he did in the lane tonight.”
The victory was the third in 16 starts this year for Sports Fanatic, who now boasts career earnings of $181,824. Overlooked in the wagering despite a nice post position draw, the gelding returned $34.80, $24.00 and $5.00 to his backers.