Hotstuf Romps in Rainy Cliff Hanger

Hotstufanthensome overcame a soft turf course, constant showers and an inquiry to win the $150,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes (gr. III) on Saturday night at the Meadowlands.

Ridden by Rajiv Maragh and trained by Norman Pointer, Hotstufanthensome ($12, $4.40, $3.40), took the lead early in the stretch and drew off to a 14 1/2-length victory over even-money favorite Icy Atlantic ($4, $3). It was another half-length to 30-1 Stormy Ray ($7.40) in third.

Jockey Aaron Gryder, aboard Stormy Ray, lodged an objection against Maragh and Hotstufanthensome. Stewards reviewed an incident on the far turn but did not change the order of finish.

Hotstufanthensome covered the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:47.1.

"He relaxed good," said winning jockey Maragh. "He had no fight in the beginning so it made it easier for me. The grass was very soft, but he was handling it very well."

"I told Rajiv to take back off the pace some and let the speed go," Pointer confirmed. "He really loves the soft turf. He won that race (Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth on July 16) on soft ground. This is a sweet win."

The 5-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again  -Don't Read My Lips by Turkoman races for Lesley Steinger of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He now has eight wins, three seconds and a third in 21 lifetime starts for career earnings of $342,220.

Hotstufanthensome now has finished first or second in 10 of 15 starts on the turf. This was a repeat appearance for him in the Cliff Hanger. He was fourth in the 2004 edition, which was won by Dr. Kashnikow, who finished eighth and last this year.

(Chart, Equibase)

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