Crafty Shaw and rider James Lopez rallied to victory in the featured $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Mile Saturday at Hoosier Park.
Owned by Charles Cella, Crafty Shaw picked up his fourth win of the season and boosted his career earnings to more than $400,000 with the victory.
After several scratches reduced the field to six, Crafty Shaw had fewer horses to contend with for early positioning. Strike Reality and Larry Taylor took control of the race from the gate, giving Lopez a horse to keep Crafty Shaw focused on during the early going.
"We got a great start out of the gate and were sitting in perfect position," said Lopez. "This horse likes to run at another horse, so I was able to keep him right behind the leader. I had a pretty good hold of him down the backstretch, but once I asked him for more in the turn, he responded. This horse loves to run the mile."
Crafty Shaw took control of the lead heading into the stretch and began to open up on the field. However, several late closers had him in their sights, a situation Lopez was well aware of.
"I knew there were several horses that closed well in this race and I was looking for Jon (Court)," said Lopez. "I knew he would be running hard late."
However, Court and MB Sea could not close quickly enough to threaten Crafty Shaw. Lopez only needed slight urging in the stretch to maintain his lead and cruise under the wire for the victory in a time of 1:35.3. M B Sea closed for a sturdy second over Cool N Collective, who maintained ground for third place with rider Dean Butler aboard.
Peter Vestal, who has had previous success at Hoosier Park, trains Crafty Shaw. Vestal saddled Peruvian to victory in the inaugural Indiana Derby during the 1995 season.
"I normally stay on the Kentucky circuit, but I'll come up here to ride horses like this anytime," said Lopez.
Crafty Shaw came into the 2002 racing season on a four-race win streak. His first stakes win was recorded in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park in 2001. Since that time, he has earned stakes victories in the Essex Handicap at Oaklawn, and more recently, the $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Challenge. The Schaefer Mile is the sixth stakes win for Crafty Shaw.