Remarkable News Makes Firecracker Headlines

Remarkable News Makes Firecracker Headlines
Photo: Reed Palmer
Remarkable News and Ramon Dominguez win Saturday's Firecracker Handicap on the Churchill Downs turf.
Favored Remarkable News, given a judicious ride by Ramon Dominguez, controlled the pace of Saturday's $232,000 Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) and drove to a measured 2 3/4-length win on the Churchill Downs turf.

The Venezuelan-bred Remarkable News made it back-to-back grade II wins for trainer Angel Penna Jr. and owner Holly Rincon after capturing the nine-furlong Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico May 19. Carrying top weight of 122 pounds and cutting back to one mile for the Firecracker, Remarkable News came home in 1:34 3/5 -- one second off the track record -- on a firm course.

Breaking from the rail while facing seven rivals, the New York-based Remarkable News gained the lead and carved easy fractions of :24 1/5, :47 4/5 and 1:11 2/5, while opening a two-length advantage over Obi Wan Kenobi, Tiganello and Crested. As they came out of the turn, Remarkable News turned up the heat, opening up under intermittent pressure to lead by 3 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole and coasting home from there.

Dominguez said he thought the complexion of the race changed with the late scratch of Hold the Salt, a longshot with early speed who was expected to help provide a brisk early pace. Remarkable News covered his final quarter mile in a swift :23.22.

“I was especially pleased with the way he finished up,” said Dominguez. “We got away with pretty comfortable fractions, but he really flew the last part and he just did it very easy.”

Second choice Brilliant rode the hedge for Mark Guidry before angling out a bit in the lane and coming on for second, 4 1/2 lengths in front of Outperformance and Rafael Bejarano.

“We got a perfect trip – a perfect rail trip – and we got through everywhere and saved every inch of ground,” said Guidry.  “He accelerated nicely off the turn, but the front horse accelerated, too, and he ran real nice. He’s a nice horse and my hat’s off to him. Today, he was the better horse.”

Now a three-time grade II winner, the consistent 5-year-old Chayim horse has triumphed in nine of 15 starts with three seconds and a third. The chestnut Remarkable News banked $122,387 Saturday to push his earnings to $762,678, all on grass. He has won three of four in 2007.

Remarkable News paid $5.40, $3 and $2.40. Brilliant, coming off a nose loss to Sky Conqueror in the Turf Classic (gr. IT) on a yielding Churchill turf course May 5, returned $3.20 and $2.40. Outperformance, who gained third in a three-horse photo, was $2.60 to show.

Crested, Obi Wan Kenobi, Vega's Lord, Tiganello and Free Thinking followed.

(Chart, Equibase)

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