Coming off a seventh-place finish in Aqueduct’s seven furlong Carter Handicap (gr. I) April 5, Ryan’s for Real benefited from a drop in class and an extension of distance and won the $200,000 Bill Hartack Memorial Handicap (gr. III)(VIDEO) (formerly the National Jockey Club Handicap) at Hawthorne Race Course April 19.
The 1 1/8 mile event for older horses drew just five runners, headed by 4-5 favorite Fairbanks. Ryan’s for Real, a 5-year-old Sword Dance gelding, was sent off at odds of 5-1 under jockey Erick Rodriguez. Getting a smooth break, the gelding quickly took the lead and led through early fractions of :23.61 and :47.55. Fairbanks was second, while Good and Lucky raced third and Mister Triester settled into fourth.
“I was looking at the races earlier today and speed was pretty good,” said Rodriguez. “That was the instruction and it worked. When I saw Fairbanks coming after us on the turn, I didn’t want to move too early.”.
After three-quarters in 1:12.05, Ryan’s for Real exchanged leads with Fairbanks going up the backside, and was pressured by that one throughout. Rolling off the far turn in a 1:37.86 mile, he held off Fairbanks’ outside bid and drew away to win by 3 ½ lengths in a final time of 1:51.18 for trainer Dale Capuano.
“He’s done very well in the morning. The farther he trains the better he seems to go so I thought he could get the mile and an eighth,” Capuano said.
Ryan’s for Real paid $14.40, $3.80, and $3, while Fairbanks returned $2.40 and $2.10 under John Velazquez and Mr. Champ brought $3.80 with Victor Lebron. Good and Lucky and Mister Triester completed the order of finish.
Bred in Florida by GIlbret Campbell out of the Unreal Zeal mare Beaties for Real, Ryan’s for Real now has a career record of 7-4-3 from 25 starts, with earnings of $331,805 for Bob Haynes’ Rob Ry Farm and Jayne Marie Slysz.