Maywood Park (11/19/11)
Contact: Tom Kelley
BETTERTHANCHEDDAR ROMPS IN WINDY CITY PACE
Continuing his late season run at divisional honors among the three-year-old colt pacing set, Steve Calhoun and West Wins Stables Betterthancheddar continued to emphatically state his case for top three-year-old pacing colt in the country as he destroyed seven other sophomores by 5½ lengths while taking Friday’s $175,000 Windy City Pace at Maywood Park in an effortless 1:52.3.
Driven as though he was head and shoulders above the field, “The Minister of Speed” George Brennan sent the son of Bettor’s Delight right to the front from post position five and he easily made the top as the field raced into the first turn. Immediately slamming on the brakes, Betterthancheddar was able to get away with pedestrian-like splits of 28.3 and 57.4.
“After he made the top that easy it was basically over from that point on,” said Brennan. “He was such a heavy favorite, he’s such a good horse and we weren’t going much so nobody wanted to make that tough first over move on him.”
With the hand-holds back around his chest Brennan continued to keep a snug hold of the Casie Coleman trainee as the field headed by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.3 while starting to open up daylight between himself and his rivals.
“I was just `speaking' to him a little to keep his mind on his business and to get him to pay attention,” said Brennan. “He hasn’t had that many starts on a half-mile track but he was perfect out there and he just paced right away from the field going around that last turn.”
Leaving his rivals in his wake, this year’s Cane Pace and Breeders Crown winner sprinted home in 27.0, turning the featured event into a laugher as he won for the 10th time in 18 lifetime starts. Mystic Desire (Peter Wrenn) turned a ground-saving trip into a second place check while Stonebridge Rocket (Doug McNair) finished third.
In the winner’s circle Brennan continued to gush about his colts performances on the Chicago circuit the past two weeks.
“Unless you were there you really can’t appreciate just how big of an effort that was at Balmoral last week because of the conditions the way they were,” Brennan said. “And then tonight he follows it up with a romp like this over a completely different size track which shows his versatility. I don’t know what the voters are going to do but this horse definitely deserves serious attention for divisional honors with the way he’s performed all year and he’s even stronger here at the end of the year than he was early in 2011.”
Sent off as the 1-9 choice and barred from show wagering, Betterthancheddar returned $2.20 and $2.10 while upping his career bankroll to $772,253.
ABE LINCOLN STAKE
On the undercard an overflow field of 11 two-year-old pacing colts lined up behind the gate for the $127,800 Abe Lincoln Stake. That meant that three of the youngsters were forced to score from the second tier. Despite all the traffic William C De Long, William P De Long and Roger Welch’s Indiana-bred champion Fridaynightflight parlayed a perfect ground-saving trip into his seventh victory of the season as he stormed through the passing lane to win by a half-length in 1:54.2 for driver Todd Warren.
Leaving alertly from the inside starting spot, the son of Panspacificflight-Ramblin Rosie came away in second behind Caviart Key (Dan Noble) as he grabbed command of the proceedings while the field raced through an opening quarter in 27.2.
“I can’t say I’ve ever been involved in one like that, going for that kind of money, with that many trailers on a half-mile track,” said a relieved Warren. “Once we got through the opening turn with no confusion and wound up in the exact spot I wanted to be I felt pretty confident.”
Sitting right on the back of Caviart Key as that gelding put up splits of 27.2, 55.4 and 1:25.1, a confident Warren felt good about his chances heading into the final bend.
“I knew I was sitting behind a live horse and I was pretty sure he was going to carry me far enough to get us to the open stretch,” said Warren. “I backed off of him just a little bit right at the top of the stretch so I would have a good angle to head into the open stretch because you just never know how these two-year-olds are going to react to new situations like that.”
Handling it like a seasoned pro the Roger Welch trainee overtook Caviart Key midway down the lane before drawing clear in the final strides for another victory. Caviart Key held on for second while Uncle Smoothie (Brian Carpenter) overcame a tough outside trip to rally for the show dough.
After dominating the Indiana-bred ranks for most of the summer Fridaynightflight now boasts a record of seven wins, five seconds and two thirds in 16 starts this season with earnings of $387,404 in his first season of racing.
Dispatched as the 7-5 co-favorite in the race with Star Recruit, Fridaynightflight returned $4.80, $2.80 and $2.20.
Sophomore pacing fillies took to the track for race nine on the card as a field of nine faced the starting gate for the $70,000 Cinderella Stake.
Once again the inside starting spot turned out to be the lucky charm in this event, as driver Dan Noble parlayed a perfect trip into a neck decision with Roy Kohl and Anna Coe’s Crossthreaded while stopping the clock in 1:54.3.
Getting away third as longshot Pardon (Dave Magee), a 44-1 outsider stormed to the front, Noble was in the garden spot while Pardon and Ole Miss (Robert Smolin) slugged it out through splits of 27.3 and 55.4.
“I just wanted to make sure I put her in a good spot since we had drawn the rail,” said Noble. “Once I saw Dave leave as hard as he did I figured he wasn’t going to be letting anybody else go so I knew we were where we needed to be.”
Heading down the backstretch towards the final turn a tired Ole Miss began to fall off the pace battle, allowing Noble to pounce from the pocket. Quickly sweeping by Pardon, Crossthreaded was in control of the proceedings as she led the field by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:25.0.
“My filly really has a big turn of speed and she can just flat out accelerate coming out of a hole like she did tonight,” said Noble. “Then she just took off around that last turn and that allowed me to put some daylight between us and the rest of the field.
Digging in gamely through the stretch, the Diana Riegle-trained daughter of Towner’s Big Guy-Tm’s Miss Hot then held off late challenges from Fresh Idea (George Brennan) and Swinging Beauty (Doug McNair) to record her 10th win in 18 starts this season.
A model of consistency throughout her first two seasons of racing, Crossthreaded now boasts a record of 10 wins, seven seconds and seven thirds in 32 lifetime starts with earnings of $192,695. The 9-5 second choice of the wagering public returned $5.80, $3.40 and $2.20.
Sophomore trotting colts were also in action as a total of 12 diagonally gaited specialists were sent postward in a pair of $50,500 divisions of the Galt Stake.
In the opening split Dm Stables and Denny Miller’s Haulin Laser zipped right to the front for driver Peter Wrenn and wound up making every call a winning one, scoring by three-quarters of a length in 1:57.0.
Hustled away from post position two, Haulin Laser was part of a four-horse duel for the early lead with Take Heart (Casey Leonard), Fox Valley Iliad (Homer Hochstetler) and The Evictor (Marcus Miller).
Finally setting into position, Haulin Laser showed the way through splits of 28.1 and 57.3 while under no urging.
“I really wasn’t surprised that all those horses left out of there but with the post we had I wanted to be in command of things,” said Wrenn. “Once things settled down my horse just relaxed perfectly on the front end and we were able to get things slowed down a bit.”
Heading down the backstretch the final time The Evictor pulled from third but his hopes went up flames when the colt made a rare break. That left Haulin Laser and Fox Valley Iliad all alone as they moved by the three-quarter-mile mark in 1:27.0.
Trotting around the final turn Take Heart, who had moved up to third at that point, made a break leaving the top two almost 15 lengths ahead of the field as the trotters turned for home.
Still fit and fresh on the front end Haulin Laser and Wrenn braced for a challenge from Fox Valley Iliad, and the gelded son of Broadway Hall-Lisa’s Laser responded beautifully as he trotted strong to the wire for his fourth win of the year. Fox Valley Iliad was a clear cut second while Take Heart was third, 21 ¼ lengths behind the winner.
“I knew Homer’s trotter was right on my back the entire way but my horse felt great out there tonight,” said Wrenn. “I never really chased after him once we straightened out and he still had plenty left in the stretch.”
Sent off as the second choice, the Jim Mulinix trainee returned $8.00, $4.80 and $2.20 while running his bankroll up to $106,081.
In the second division Helping Hands Stables, Mr Web Page headed right to the front from post position four and made every call a winning one, reporting home with a comfortable three-quarter-length victory in 1:58.2 for veteran driver-trainer Dan Shetler.
|Mr Web Page|
Hustled away from the gate in the compact field of six, the royally bred son of Muscles Yankee-India Hall strolled through splits of 29.3, 59.2 and 1:29.2 while in hand to Shetler.
“We made the top so easy that I had all the confidence in the world after that opening quarter,” said Shetler. “This was his first time on a half-mile track but he handled it just fine and had no trouble whatsoever getting around the turns.”
Despite his main challenger Evil Urges (Jimmy Whittemore) sitting right on his back the entire way, Mr Web Page was never seriously threatened as he cruised home under wraps for his ninth win in 19 starts this year. Evil Urges finished second while Ooga Booga (Dave Magee) was third.
After the victory Shetler seemed quite impressed by the performance that Mr Web Page had just turned in.
“He’s really been sharp here at the end of the year,” said Shetler. “He trotted a huge mile to win the Oliver at Indiana Downs in his last start and then tonight he did this so effortlessly. He’s really a nice horse and I never even had to start him up tonight yet he still finished with plenty left in reserve.”
Coming off that big win in Indiana Mr Web Page was heavily backed at the windows returning $3.00, $2.20 and $2.10 while upping his career bankroll to $249,553.
LESTER MCKEEVER STAKE
The top older pacers in the Prairie State were sent postward in the $35,000 Lester McKeever Stake.
|Well To Do Guru|
As has been the case all season long, James Gorman’s Well To Do Guru continued his dominance over the state-bred set as he made every call a winning one en route to a 3 ¼ length victory in a snappy 1:53.3.
Taking advantage of an inside post, driver Casey Leonard put the ultra-consistent seven-year-old right on top from the word go. Cruising through splits of 27.3, 56.4 and 1:25.2, the issue was never in doubt as the Terry Leonard trainee reeled off a 28.1 final quarter to post his 12th win in 24 starts this year. Fort Silky (Marcus Miller) followed the winner's every move to be second while Sports Fanatic (Sam Widger) finished third, seven lengths behind the winner.
The win gave Well To Do Guru a clean sweep of the Maywood Park Illinois Bred Championship Series, earning the gelding a $20,000 bonus.
“He’s just so good right now that there was no way I was going to let anybody go once we drew an inside post,” said driver Casey Leonard. “There were horses out there looking like they were going to pose a challenge to us but it never really came so I just continued to let him pace along however he wanted.”
The win was the 31st of his illustrious career and that fact was not lost on Leonard after Well To Do Guru pushed his earnings up to $531,728.
“Everyone involved with this horse from my dad (Terry), his caretaker Teddy and most of all the Gorman’s have just been a pleasure to deal with and they’ve made this a great ride for all involved,” said a beaming Leonard. “He’s never been better and that’s a testament to not only how tough he is but the care and management he gets.”