Straight Line, ridden by Brice Blanc, took the lead on the turn and pulled away from his 2-year-old rivals to easily win the $109,600 Iroquois (gr. III) at one mile at Churchill Downs Saturday.
The 80-year-old Harvey Vanier-trained Straight Line, a Kentucky-bred son of Boundary
-Zanti (Strawberry Road), won his first graded stakes in three tries, completing the one turn mile in 1:36 3/5 on a fast track. The narrow 2-1 favorite in the field of seven, Straight Line was five lengths in front of Social Probation. Greater Good, the slight second choice, finished third, seven lengths behind the winner, with Chief Commander fourth.
"This is going to pick me up a little more than usual," said Vanier. "We're hoping always for a super horse. Time will tell. Day by day, that's how we live."
The stakes victory by Harvey Vanier was his 16th at Churchill Downs and first since capturing the 1995 River City with Homing Pigeon. Vanier won his first stakes race under the Twin Spires with Admiral's Shield in the 1970 Derby Trial.
Norainonthisparty, racing in tight quarters with Kevin Krigger aboard, went down coming out of the turn. Norainonthisparty apparently bumped with Social Probation and threw Krigger to the track. Krigger was taken for first aid and released. According to attending physcian Dr. Eric Baker, Krigger suffered bruising of the left hip, knee and ankle. The horse returned to the barn without injury.
Breaking behind the early leaders Highgrove and Can't Trick Jake, Blanc guided Straight Line into a stalking position on the outside just behind Can't Trick Jake through quick opening fractions of :22 3/5 and :45 3/5. Straight Line ranged up to the leader on the turn and took the lead after six furlongs in 1:10 4/5.
Social Probation, ridden by Calvin Borel, edged up along the inside, lacked room briefly before finally getting free on the outside in the stretch but was never a threat to the winner.
Greater Good, with John McKee aboard, was last into the turn but never far behind the pack. He made a big sweeping move but was forced to swerve to avoid the fallen horse. Greater Good gathered himself and finished well, but he was not going to catch Straight Line, who won impressively.
Straight Line ended a three-race losing streak since winning the Honest Pleasure at Arlington Park Aug. 1. He was a solid fourth behind Consolidator at odds of 28-1 in his last start, the Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland Oct. 9. Overall, Straight Line is 3-1-0 in six starts this year with earnings of $166,312 for owners Nancy A. Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds.
R. Alex Rankin and Louis Wright bred the winner, a $15,000 Keeneland yearling sale in September 2003.
He paid $6.40, $3.80 and $3. Social Probation returned $5.40 and $3.40. Greater Good's show was $2.40.
After Chief Commander came Highgrove and Can't Trick Jake.