Sent off at odds of 9-10 by the home town crowd, Frank Calabrese’s Lewis Michael did not disappoint his many backers by drawing off to a 4 3/4-length victory in the $300,000 Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) Saturday on the Arlington Park Polytrack.
E.T. Baird was aboard the son of Rahy for the first time in the Washington Park. The Wayne Catalano-trained 4-year-old colt – a full brother to 2006 Eclipse Award winning 2-year-old filly Dreaming of Anna – covered the 1 3/16-mile test in 1:55.17 and paid $3.80, $3 and $2.10.
The Washington Park Handicap was the first graded stakes victory for Lewis Michael, who had placed in the Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup (gr. II) at Keeneland and the Hanshin Cup (gr. III) at Arlington earlier this season. Both of those races were on Polytrack as well.
Lewis Michael battled pacesetter Throng for nearly a mile before taking command.
“We broke out of the gate really well with the other speed horse (Throng),” Baird said. “We went around the first turn pretty comfortably. I figured it was better if I held my ground and stayed in there instead of getting into a jam. Turning for home, I asked him and he accelerated. I knew he was a nice horse, but I didn’t know he was that nice.”
Throng set the pace from just outside Lewis Michael and posted fractions of :24.74, :48.60 and 1:12.60 before giving way.
Mustanfar, sitting just off the dueling pair while racing three wide for Jesse Campbell, took over second in the stretch but was no match for the winner and paid $5.20 and $3.20.
“I had the winner right where I wanted him down on the inside but, when he got going, my horse couldn’t stay with him,” said Campbell.
Second choice A. P. Arrow, third with Mark Guidry aboard, paid $2.40. Throng, High Blues, Save Big Money, and Minister’s Joy completed the order of finish.
“I knew going in that this was a horse that takes a lot of riding,” said Guidry. “He doesn’t handle (Polytrack) really well, but I’m not going to make an excuse.”
Coming off a seven-length allowance Polytrack score July 15, Lewis Michael carried top weight of 118 pounds and banked $176,400 to move his career earnings to $568,014.