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Gran Estreno Steals Washington Park Handicap

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/05/2009 #

Twice claimed this year for $20,000, Feel The Thunder Stable's Gran Estreno picked up his sixth straight win and biggest victory to date when he posted a wire-to-wire, half-length tally in the Grade III $200,000 Washington Park Handicap, which earns the son of Lucky Roberto a guaranteed starting spot in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park should his connections pay the necessary supplement and entry fees.

Under jockey E. T. Baird, the 6-year-old horse stole the race on the front end through pedestrian fractions of 25.87, 52.42, 1:19.25, 1:43.24 en route to a final clocking of 2:00.61 for the mile and three-sixteenths over Polytrack.

"There's no reason to push the horse harder than you have to," said Baird.  "It just turned into a sprint.  My horse was running - he was flat out running.  That last quarter mile we were throwing down some serious fractions.  If anyone was going to run by us they would have been much the best because my horse was giving it everything he had. The last quarter of a mile we were just flat flying."

Gran Estrano earned $116,400 for the win, his ninth in 21 starts, to boost his bankroll to $295,281.

Dubious Miss chased the winner throughout and Wicked Style ran third every step of the way.

"We (Gran Estreno and Dubious Miss) both started picking it up at the same time," said Dubious Miss's jockey Chris Emigh.  "I thought I thought I could outrun him (the winner), but in hindsight I should have probably gotten into him a little sooner.  Hindsight is 20-20."

Eldaafer, Palladio, Unusual Suspect, Let It Rock and 5-2 favorite Church Service completed the order of finish.

Gran Estreno paid $12.20, $6.20 and $4.80.  Dubious Miss returned $7.80 and $5.40.  Wicked Style paid $4.80.