HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE
|Hawthorne Racecourse (4/17/04)
Contact: Jim Miller
Ten Most Wanted Gets Back in Form in NJC Handicap
STICKNEY, IL -- It was the return of the Ten Most Wanted that drew the luster to the running of the Grade 3, $250,000 National Jockey Club Handicap at Hawthorne and the four-year-old colt didn't disappoint as he got back on the winning edge in fine style.
After a pair of rough starts in the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2003 and the New Orleans Handicap on February 29 of this year, the decision to return to Hawthorne was made quickly by trainer Wally Dollase as Hawthorne was where Ten Most Wanted got things started with his Illinois Derby (G2) victory in 2003.
Breaking sharply from the gate, Flemish Cap and New York Hero battled through quick early fractions of :23.52 and :46.90. Ten Most Wanted and jockey David Flores were content to lay third about six lengths off the pace as they began their move heading into the far turn. Rolling by the pacesetters as he passed three-quarters in 1:11.50, Ten Most Wanted was on his own and extending in the stretch. He opened up a five-length lead quickly.
Gliding under the wire and stopping the clock for the 1 1/8 miles at 1:49.54, Ten Most Wanted was 6¾ lengths clear of second-place finisher Colonial Colony. New York Hero held on for third while Fighting Indians finished fourth, followed up by Parrott Bay and Flemish Cap.
The win was the fifth for Ten Most Wanted and his second at Hawthorne. The $150,000 winner's share for the victory boosted his earnings to $1,718,460 on his career.
Ten Most Wanted returned $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10 as the 1-5 favorite. Colonial Colony came back $3.00 and $2.10 while New York Hero returned $2.10 to show.
So what's next for Ten Most Wanted? Trainer Wally Dollase had his plans, "The Pimlico Special is the logical place to send him next. You like to space the races about a month apart. The distance doesn't bother me. "The Hawthorne Gold Cup in the fall is a possibility," he continued. "It's positioned right as a prep for the Breeders' Cup and he obviously loves this track."
And on today's race and new rider David Flores job, Dollase was pleased as well, "David said he did it so easy. He said he really picked it up on the turn on his own. I was a little worried that maybe that he was going a little too early since the stretch was so long but it was so easy for him. It was the perfect mind builder. Hopefully he'll come out of it OK and we'll be off and running. I'm very excited because we got the horse back. He had two very bad experiences in the fall and he needed this. Today he did everything right."
Jockey David Flores couldn't have asked for anything more with his mount, "I worked him a couple of times before this ride. He worked really, really good at Hollywood Park. Ten Most Wanted is just a good horse. This was an easy race for him. This was more like a prep for him. He's probably headed to the Pimlico Special so I'm really happy with the way he performed today. He was just coasting on the backside. I didn't even turn him loose, he was just doing it on his own. I didn't want to hold him so I let him breeze around.
"I was really happy with the way he finished the race," he explained. "This was the confidence builder he needed. He should be ready for whatever comes."
Second-place finisher Colonial Colony knew this spot all too well as he finished second in last year's edition of the race as well. Jockey James Lopez had horse, but not enough for Ten Most Wanted, "He made a nice little run at the end but Ten Most Wanted was just the best horse. I might have been able to finish a little closer but I wasn't going to win the race and I didn't want to use the horse if I didn't need to. I knew we were safe for second. We knew the pace was going to be fast which set up for Ten Most Wanted and us. But, he was sitting in the catbird seat and he was the best horse so I was just happy to finish second."
Although he battled through quick early fractions, New York Hero didn't give in until late, giving jockey Tim Thornton a nice pick up mount for the stake, "We didn't plan on heading for the front but he wouldn't relax early so I just let him go. He ran on when the other one gave in and still had something left in the end. We were no match for the winner but he ran a good race to hold third."