Jockey Eibar Coa almost got a Grand Slam all by himself at Calder Race Course Saturday, finishing with winners of three of the day's four stakes races after Krieger captured the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) for 3 and up at 1 1/8 mile on the turf.
Coa rode an impressive five winners on the afternoon.
Aboard Krieger, Coa's tactics were predictable by day's end – play "catch me if you can."
The seven-time leading rider at Calder/Tropical guided each of his three stakes winners to the early lead and kept them going to be in front at the finish line.
"Sometimes you think you have a really good life...you have good mounts...and things don't work the way you want," said Coa. "Today was a lucky day and everything went my way. I'm happy for that."
Krieger, 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Lord At War, is a recent winter arrival from New York for the powerful Stronach Stables and trainer Joe Orseno. Sent off as the 2-to-1 favorite, he covered the Calder turf course in 1:47 and finished one length in front of Stokosky. Serial Bride was third, 3/4-length further back.
After stumbling slightly out of the gate, the winner established a two-length lead over Illusionary into the first turn and on the backstretch. He maintained that edge into the stretch, when Stokosky picked up the challenge, but had more than enough to hold off the runner-up.
"I got into him at the head of the stretch, but I knew I had some left," said Coa.
"I was concerned when he stumbled coming out of the gate, but he recovered well," said Orseno. "I left it up to Eibar (Coa) where to place him and it worked out well being on the lead."
In collecting his first stakes win, Krieger paid $6.80, $4.40 and $3.40 for the win and completed the day's All Stakes Pick 4, which returned $2,623.70. Stokosky returned $7 and $4.40. Serial Bride, who edged Illusionary by a neck for third, paid $4.20. Dawn of the Condor, the 5-2 second choice, was fifth. Morning line favorite Band Is Passing was scratched.
It was the sixth win in 15 starts for Krieger who now has earnings of more than $275,000.
The Grand Slam I on-track attendance was 8,863 and the combined mutuel handle was $7,053,812.