Tampa shippers Atticus Kristy and Around the Cape ran one-two in the $115,000 Shakertown (gr. IIIT) on the Keeneland turf Friday.
The best horse in the 5 1/2-furlong race, however, might have been Man of Illusion, who broke slowly, checked, and then had trouble getting through but somehow still managed to run third in his first start in this country.
The winner came from off the pace as so often happens in a turf sprint. Under Garrett Gomez, Atticus Kristy raced five or six wide early but had clear sailing on his way to the lead, where he hooked up with Around the Cape and Cornelio Velasquez down the stretch.
Australian-bred Man of Illusion finally got free, but it was too late and he just got up for third by a nose over pacesetter Yucatan. They were two lengths behind Atticus Kristy, who won by a neck over Around the Cape at odds of 8-1. The time was 1:01.83.
Yucatan set a rapid pace of :21 3/5, :44 1/5 and :55 4/5 before being overtaken in the final furlong. Grade I winner Soaring Free, the 2-1 choice in the field of 12 who was making his first start since Aug. 27, stalked the leader from the rail for John Velazquez before weakening late to finish sixth. He was beaten by less than three lengths.
Atticus Kristy was winning his ninth race in 29 starts for trainer Merrill Scherer. The son of Atticus
is owned by Centaur Farms, which bred him in Kentucky in partnership with Dan Lynch. The victory, worth $71,300, increased the 5-year-old gelding's earnings to $367,018.
"(Trainer) Mel (Scherer) told me he had tactical speed and I kind of nursed him along," said Gomez. "I uncovered him when we turned for home and he did what he was supposed to do and what I was expecting him to do."
In the Woodford over the Keeneland turf last fall at the same distance, Atticus Kristy was beaten a neck. This was his third start of the year following a win in an optional claimer and fourth in the Turf Dash, both races at Tampa.
Around the Cape ran third in the Turf Dash in his last start.
Atticus Kristy paid $19.20, $9, and $6.20 while Around the Cape returned returned $8.20 and $5. Man of Illusion paid $5.20.
Yucatan was followed by Sgt. Bert, Soaring Free, Parker Run, Justice for Auston, Mighty Beau, Mad Adam, Onthedeanslist, and Il Capriccio. Social Probation was scratched.