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Off Duty wins the 2007 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland.
Photos courtesy of EquiSportPhotos.com
There were two sprints on Saturday at Keeneland as part of FallStars Weekend. Kicking off the stakes action that afternoon was the $300,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares going 6 furlongs on the Polytrack. Ballerina Stakes runner-up Baroness Thatcher was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over 3-1 second choice Wild Gams, coming off a second place finish in the Presque Isle Downs Masters, and 4-1 third choice Lady Belsara, winner of the Chicago Handicap last time out.
Wild Gams wins the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes.
32-1 outsider Hot Storm battled on the front end with Lady Belsara down the backstretch through fractions of 21.96 and 45.26. Hot Storm continued to lead up to the 3/16 pole when she tired, as Wild Gams, who was four wide back in 7th early, came out six wide into the stretch and took over the lead at the 1/16 pole. She drew off to win by 1 1/2 lengths over late-running 5-1 Sugar Swirl, while favorite Baroness Thatcher was left with too much ground to make up, finishing another length back in third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Wild Gams Dominguez 8.20 4.00 2.80 3 Sugar Swirl Bejarano 5.20 3.20 1 Baroness Thatcher Leparoux 2.60 Winning Time: 1:10.00 $2 Exacta 6-3 42.80 $2 Trifecta 6-3-1 128.80 $2 Superfecta 6-3-1-9 508.40
Wild Gams winning close-up. Her trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said, "We're real happy with the way she ran. We gave her the summer off. She had some issues, but she seemed to come back real well. When we handicapped it, it looked like there was a good amount of speed and the track helped because the horses were coming from off the pace. There's a nice, long stretch here, too. I told Ramon to be patient because she has a really good kick. He rode her perfectly. This is two races back-to-back. She will go back to Monmouth on Monday. It would be a neat thing to do with the Breeders' Cup at her home track." Wild Gams is a New Jersey bred.
Her jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "Ben (Perkins) had a pretty good feel for the race. He told me, 'I think you'll be 3 to 5 lengths off the lead.' I was able to get a great trip. At the 1/8 pole, I was following (Sugar Swirl), and I was able to get out. She had a little difficulty, she was getting a little squeezed. But things worked our way, and she really ran a great race. She was certainly the best horse in the race."
Head of of the finish with Wild Gams in the purple and Sugar Swirl in the red and black. Second place finisher Sugar Swirl's jockey, Rafael Bejarano, said, "She tried really hard. She got stuck between horses and when I got her clear she exploded. The winner really exploded."
Trainer of third place finisher Baroness Thatcher,Patrick Biancone, said, "They went 21 and change and this is a prep for the Breeders' Cup. We're happy she ran a very good race. They went too fast, 21 and change and 45. We didn't want to be going that fast today."
Her jockey Julien Leparoux said, "I had nowhere to go on the rail, but she finished very good. She was relaxed and she may be better on the turf anyway. We'll see."
Off Duty wins the 2007 Phoenix Stakes.
Photos courtesy of EquiSportPhotos.com
Indian Chant went to the front right away and contested the early pace with 14-1 Off Duty through a quarter in 23.01 and a half in 46.82, with 5-1 Connections stalking them in third. Entering the stretch, Indian Chant faded to eventually finish fourth, as Off Duty inherited the lead getting 5f in 58.32. Through the final furlong, he was all out to hold off the late charging 8-1 Rebellion to get the victory by just 1/2 a length in 1:10.17. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Saint Anddan in third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Off Duty Melancon 29.40 12.80 8.00 4 Rebellion Dominguez 9.60 6.20 5 Saint Anddan Bejarano 4.00 Winning Time: 1:10.17 $2 Exacta 7-4 252.60 $2 Trifecta 7-4-5 2,059.80 $2 Superfecta 7-4-5-2 6,697.40Results Chart
Off Duty in the post parade. His trainer Lynn Whiting said, "He ran really big. He has been on the top of his game and I knew he would bring his A game today, but he still has to show up. He broke like a shot and got good position. The track hasn't been kind to front-runners but he wound up behind Indian Chant and wound up in stalker role. He is not nominated (to the Breeders' Cup). That would be a factor because it may be cost prohibitive (to supplement). He's really good right now. Maybe he will make us go."
His jockey Larry Melancon said, "When he left the gate running like that I thought he would fire big. I really thought Saint Anddan would be more of a pace factor and we would be laying about third. We got the lead at the 3/16 pole and I still had some horse left."
Rounding the turn in the Phoenix Stakes with eventual winner Off Duty (lane 2) taking the lead. Second place finisher Rebellion's jockey, Ramon Dominguez, said, "My colt ran great. I had a great trip. If anything, I would have liked to have seen a little more pace. They went slower than I would have expected. But I was only worried about keeping my horse relaxed and in position to win. He finished up nice and gave me a good effort."
Third place finisher Saint Anddan's jockey, Rafael Bejarano, said, "My colt ran good. I put him in good position but I had no excuse. He's not too fast but not too slow. But at least he ran his race today."
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