On a muddy track at Pimlico Saturday, Lightning Paces earned a wire-to-wire victory in the $140,000 Baltimore Ravens Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), defeating 9-5 favorite Milwaukee Brew by 3/4 lengths. Under jockey Greg Hutton, Lightning Paces completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.52.
Lightning Paces set moderate fractions of :23.20 and :47.27, as Milwaukee Brew settled in last place early on. Cat's At Home put the pressure on Lightning Paces after a half-mile, but the winner still maintained a half-length lead after six furlongs run in 1:11.46. Lightning Paces kicked clear of Cat's At Home and held off the late charge of Milwaukee Brew and Grundlefoot en route to the win.
"I was going to make the lead as best I could. I tried to get him to settle for a first half in about 48 but that didn't work," said Hutton. "I did get him to relax very nicely midway down the backstretch. I still had a lot of horse turning for home but I could hear them coming behind me. We had just enough to hang on. He's a very nice horse."
Grundlefoot finished third, a length ahead of Cat's At Home. There was a gap of 41 3/4 lengths to Windrush, who was eased in the final furlong and finished last in the five-horse field.
"Looking at the field I think he would have been on the front end regardless of the surface," said winning trainer Jerry Robb. "He's never run on the slop but the track seemed to be playing to the speed during the early part of the card. That's his game, to go to the front, so that's just what we did. This was his tenth win and he is gradually working up to being one of the nicest horses I've ever trained."
Bred in Maryland by Janet L. Wayson, Lightning Paces is a 4-year-old son of Thirty Eight Paces -- Bear Feet, by Winded T. Saturday's win marks his first in a stakes race since winning the Virginia Derby by a nose last October. He has now won a stakes race in each of his three seasons of racing. He earned $60,000 for the win, his 10th in 26 starts and first in a graded stakes.
The longest price on the board at odds of nearly 7-1, Lightning Paces returned $15.80, $6, and $3.80. Milwaukee Brew paid $4.60 and $3.40 and completed a $50.60 exacta. Grundlefoot paid $3.20 to show. (Chart, Equibase