Robert V. LaPenta's Pies Prospect seized control before the eighth pole and pulled away for an easy victory in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) at Calder Race Course Saturday.
With Edgar Prado holding the reigns, Pies Prospect, a 3-year-old son of Crafty Prospector
who was supplemented to the Hooper, won his second graded stakes race of the year. He captured Meadowlands' Pegasus (gr. III) against 3-year-olds Oct. 1. He was seventh in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Nov. 26 in his last start.
Prado said it was easy.
"I was able to take him outside in the clear and it was all over," Prado said. "We just cruised along. I only hit him a couple of times to encourage him a little bit, just to be sure he kept about his business."
Nick Zito trains the winner, who completed the 1 1/8 mile-event in 1:50 3/5 as the 3-1 second choice in the field of 11. Pies Prospect was 8 1/2 lengths clear of Twilight Road, who came on late to edge pacesetter Hear No Evil by a length for second.
"This horse has been a nice, useful horse all year. He was really unlucky in the Clark," Zito said. "He drew the outside post and never got a break at any time in the race, but he kept trying all the way and only got beat six lengths."
A Huevo, the Hooper favorite at 2-1, was not a factor after tracking the pace in third place for the first half mile under Ramon Dominguez. He wound up last, more than 32 lengths behind the winner, stopping after seven furlongs.
Pies Prospect, also in a striking position from the leaders throughout, swung up on the outside at the head of the stretch and was soon in command.
Hear No Evil set a solid pace for Eddie Castro – :23 3/5, :47 4/5 and 1:11 2/5 – but was no match when headed by the winner.
Pies Prospect, produced from the Bates Motel dam Hot Pillow and bred in Kentucky by Gordon Wootton and Mary Lou Wootton, won for the fifth time in 15 career tries while pushing his earnings to $500,865. He was a $190,000 Keeneland purchase in September 2002.
Zito said Pies prospect would campaign next year.
"He's a Crafty Prospector and I think he'll just get better with age," he said. "I'll try to pick his spots and maybe wait until later in the year to go after the biggest races, but that can always change."
He paid $8.40, $4.60 and $4.20. Twilight Road returned $9 and $7.40. Hear No Evil's show was $6.
Prado was aboard Arvada earlier on the Grand Slam II card to win the La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIT).
The Judge Sez Who ran fourth, followed by Uncivil, Caiman, Gold Dollar, Super Frolic, Dustys Birthday, Bob's Proud Moment and the tailed off A Huevo.