Sondra Benders' Certantee made the jump from turf to dirt with a powerful score in the $150,000 John D. Schapiro Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap Saturday at Laurel Park. The race was moved off the grass because of soggy conditions.
Entered to start with stablemate La Reine's Terms, who scratched out of the race, Certantee carried the colors of the very hot Bender stable to a one-length victory under jockey Horatio Karamanos in 1:49 for the nine furlongs.
New York shipper and post time favorite Polish Miner never got a breather as he had to track and engage the speedy Elberton from the start and then tried to fend off Certantee in the final furlongs. Polish Miner finished second in a game effort. Full Brush rallied from far back to be third.
The winner paid $10.60.
Rain in central Maryland forced six of the 11 entries to scratch, including La Reine's Terms, the morning line favorite.
Jockey Karamanos said, "He had run on dirt a couple of times early in his career, but that was sprinting. He had never won and I was concerned about the distance on this surface today. I kept him in good position early. I sent him outside those two and then he dug in for me the last eighth of a mile and proved he was best."
"We never intended to run La Reine's Terms," trainer Lawrence Murray admitted afterward. "We were trying to scare off the competition for Certantee but the weather took care of reducing the field. All we really had to do was get to the gate. I know he's better as a turf horse but all he had behind him today were turf horses.."
The Bender-Murray team has won five stakes races in Maryland this year, all since Aug. 11 (a span of 18 added money races), with four different horses. Karamanos has ridden four of the winners.