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Jockey James Graham Scores Prairie State Stakes Double
Jockey James Graham enjoyed a productive Prairie State Festival, booting home two winners in the six Illinois-bred stakes races. The Irish rider scored with Hondo Ranch's Sandia Crest in the $126,500 Springfield Stakes and with Two Bucks To Show's Cumulonimble in the $113,125 Lincoln Heritage Handicap.
In the Springfield, Hondo Ranch's Sandia Crest rallied from last at the top of the stretch to win the one-mile race by 1 ¼ lengths. The Frank Kirby-trained son of Indy Snow covered the distance in 1:38.29 and paid $42.40, $14.20 and $7.
"Early on Frank told me just not to rush him off his feet, let him get comfortable," Graham said. "I did that. At the half-mile pole he started taking me. I let him take me as far as he wanted. When I asked him to go he went and it was over."
"This is a homebred for (wife) Sharon and me and it's really exciting to win one of these races," Kirby said.
Sweet Luca rallied from far back to take the lead in the stretch before being overtaken by the winner. He returned $6.40 and $3.80. Real Power ran third and paid $3.80.
Report Card, the 17-10 favorite, never got hold of the track and finished fourth. "He'd been working real good over this track," said his rider Francisco Torres. "The rain (earlier in the day) tightened things up and the track balled up under his feet. He didn't like it at all."
Cumulonimble, the 2010 Lincoln Heritage victress, picked up her second win in the race with a three-length score in the 2012 edition of the mile and a sixteenth turf race. The daughter of Stormy Atlantic covered the distance over firm ground in 1:42.79.
The Wayne Catalano-trained 6-year-old tracked the pacesetters before overtaking the front runners to draw away in the stretch.
"It was a perfect set-up," Graham said. "They went a little quick up front. My filly sat real well and when I pulled the trigger – she went."
The winner paid $5.20, $3 and $3.20 (ok). There was a dead heat for second between Katie the Lady ($6.80 and $9 ok) and Pathway ($3 and $3.60 ok).
In other Prairie State Festival races:
Ron Magers, Bob Marcocchio, Roe Conn & Russell Scurto's champion filly Third Chance is well on her way to another championship season as the daughter of Kafwain romped to an easy 6 1/2-length victory in the $112,125 Isaac Murphy Handicap to remain perfect on the year. Francisco Torres was aboard the 4-year-old filly who covered the six furlongs in 1:10.92.
"She's just a class act," said winning trainer Jimmy DiVito. "You put her in with Illinois-breds and she's double tough. She sprints very well. She can run on the Polytrack obviously and she can run on the dirt also. She's a real, real nice horse. She's easy to train."
Algonquin Posse made a belated move to get the place money, finishing 1 ¾ lengths to the good of third-place runner Our Lady in Red.
"She ran big, I thought," said Chris Emigh, who rode the runner-up. "The (winner Third Chance) looked much the best and ran like it but I was very happy with the way my horse ran."
Third Chance, the 7-10 choice, returned $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10. Algonquin Posse paid $4.80 and $3. Our Lady in Red paid $2.80.
It was expected that trainer Rusty Hellman would be standing in the winner's circle after the $112,125 White Oak Handicap however it wasn't expected that he'd be there standing next to Danalisa Racing Stable's Capt. Bullet Bob who won the six-furlong dash by a neck over Four Left Feet.
"I know everybody thought we were going to just send 'Bob' out there to kill the speed to set it up for (favored) River Bear (also trained by Hellman), but I told Timmy (jockey Thornton) 'Ride to win,'" Hellman said. "If somebody wants to go out there then let them go. If River Bear doesn't fire, this horse has a good chance to win it. River Bear didn't seem to have his kick like he normally does. Capt. Bullet Bob got the job done for us today."
"I knew that Roarin Missile had shown some speed before but my horse had come out of some Quarter Horse races," added winning jockey Tim Thornotn. "I didn't think any of them could go with me but when Roarin Missile went out I just let my horse relax. I waited before I got into him and hoped nobody else was coming. He just kept digging in and never gave up."
A 6-year-old son of Mutakddim, Capt. Bullet Bob covered the six furlongs over Polytrack in 1:10.66 and paid $18.60, $10.80 and $16.60 (prices OK).
Four Left Feet rallied to take second and returned $8.80 and $12.60 (prices OK). It was another neck back to pacesetter Roarin Missile who held on for third and paid $21.80.
River Bear, the 4-5 favorite who also took some $37,000 in show wagering in a $50,000 pool, could do no better than fifth.
"He just can't handle this Polytrack," said Danush Sukie, who rode the beaten favorite. "Same thing last year. On the dirt he's 10 times better; on this – no response at all."
Hernandez Racing Club's La Tia led every step of the way en route to an 8 ¼-length score in the $113,125 Purple Violet Stakes. Constantino Roman was aboard the Brian Williamson-trained daughter of City Place who covered the mile over Polytrack in 1:38.24.
The Purple Violet was the second straight win for the 3-year-old filly who posted a nine-length tally when breaking her maiden here May 25.
"I was pretty confident (going into this race)," said Williamson. "She came out of that (last) race great. She was coming out of her skin and doing great. I thought we had a shot. I kept getting calls to buy her so I knew she must have run a good number. It was good to see. She got the lead with all those sprinters in there, but that worked out good."
Dolly Peach, winner of the Pretty Jenny Stakes at Hawthorne in April, hung on for second, a head to the good of Wonder County.
"This filly has got more heart and more grit than any horse I've ridden but the mile is just way too far for her," said her rider Rosemary Homeister Jr.
La Tia paid $15, $7 and $5.80. Dolly Peach returned $5.60 and $4.80. Wonder Country paid $12.80.
In the final stakes races of the day Captain Jack Racing Stable's Mr. Mischief got out to an easy lead and never looked back en route to 1 ½-length victory in the $114,625 Black Tie Affair Handicap. With E. T. Baird in the irons, the Tony Granitz-trained son of Stormy Atlantic covered the mile and a sixteenth over firm turf in 1:36.62.
"He runs really competitive races," Baird said. "Tony always lets me ride him and I've always gotten along well with him."
"It was great," Granitz added. "The horse was training great when he went into this race. We were very fortunate with a little rain today. I think it helped us out with the grass. I told E. T. 'Just ride your race.' It was great that the owner was here today, he brought his wife down. This is a great Father's Day present."
Suntracer rallied from last on the far turn to get up for second with Forbidden Forest another half-length back in third.
"He really came running late," said Suntracer's jockey Eduardo Perez. "He got a little bump in the stretch. The winner had it easy up front."
Mr. Mischief paid $12, $6.20 and $4.20. Suntracer returned $6.20 and $4. Forbidden Forest paid $6.80.