Going farther than he ever has before, Memorial Maniac came from off the pace to score his first graded-stakes win in the $100,000 Stars and Stripes Turf (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO), the first of four graded stakes on the Arlington Park turf Aug. 21.
Ridden by James Graham, Memorial Maniac caught Lemonade Kid in deep stretch and held stoutly to the wire for a neck victory. The 8-1 shot completed the Stars and Stripes distance of 1 5/8 miles in 2:44.29 on a grass course rated good.
Lemonade Kid finished second by 3 1/2 lengths, with defending Stars and Stripes winner Free Fighter finished third. Perfect Shower, the 11-10 favorite, stalked the leaders throughout but offered no late response while finishing fourth.
Larry Demeritte trains the winner, a 5-year-old Lear Fan gelding, for owner Butterfly Stable. Memorial Maniac was the only starter in the nine-horse field coming off a victory, which came on the Arlington turf at 1 1/16 miles against an optional claiming allowance field.
Memorial Maniac was relaxed early in sixth as 9-year-old Rumor Has It bounded away to a big lead while clipping off fractions of :49.44 for the opening half-mile and 1:41.09 for the mile. He led by as many as 10 lengths before the field, led by Free Fighter, Armstrong Mill, and Lemonade Kid, closed in heading into the third and final turn.
Free Fighter, ridden by Francisco Torres, took a narrow lead into the stretch, but could not hold off Lemonade Kid, who took over from between horses in the lane for Julien Leparoux. Memorial Maniac, on the outside, drew even past the sixteenth-pole and prevailed in the final strides.
Memorial Maniac, who needed a mechanical repair of his bit prior to the start of the race, improved his career mark to 4-3-2 in 25 races with earnings of $154,445.
Donamire Farm bred the winner in Kentucky. The bay is out of the Cozzene mare Enlightening.
Sent off as the fourth choice, Memorial Maniac carried 119 pounds and paid $18.80, $9, and $6.40. Lemonade Kid, sent off at 18-1, returned $13.80 and $7 while completing a $257.20 exacta. Free Fighter, who won last year's race when it was contested at 12 furlongs for trainer Chris Block, returned $4.40 to show as the 121-pound high weight.