The 1 1/8-mile Kent was scheduled to be run on turf but heavy rain forced it on the wet-fast main track. A field of 13 was reduced to six by scratches, leaving I’m Steppin’ It Up to race alone on the lead, open up a clear lead in the stretch, and claim his first stakes win under Jeremy Rose.
The 3-year-old son of Congrats races for Roman Hill Farm. Out of the Thunder Gulch mare Cindy Woo Woo, he was bred in Florida by Thomas Croley.
I’m Steppin’ It Up came into the Kent with just one win in eight starts this season, that coming in a one-mile optional claimer at Delaware in May. As a juvenile he was a distant third to Uncle Mo in the Champagne (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
With Rose aboard in the Kent, the chestnut colt grabbed the early lead and took the field through splits of :24.45, :49.09, and 1:13.18. Fire With Fire stalked the pace, but I’m Steppin’ It Up was clear by four lengths at the top of the stretch and had enough to hold off a belated challenge from King Congie, who rallied from last under Joe Rocco Jr. for second.
The final time was 1:50.50. Fire With Fire was third.
Pecoraro, a 47-year-old native of Long Island, N. Y., recorded his first career win as a trainer in 1984. He has been a regular Delaware trainer since 1997.
“That was nice, it was really nice to win my 1,000th race in the Kent Stakes,” said Pecoraro. “He is a nice colt and he has been good, but he has just been growing up. I am not sure where we are going next, but he is a Florida-bred so we would like to aim for the Sunshine Millions, but I am not sure where we are going to go from here.”
Solid morning-line favorite Willcox Inn was scratched when the race was taken off the turf.
Based at Delaware for Pecoraro, I’m Steppin’ It Up entered the Kent off a third-place finish in the Sept. 5 Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx Racing. He improved to 3-2-4 from 14 lifetime starts and earnings of $321,566.
The winner paid $10.80, $3.80, and $3. The exacta (5-7) returned $25.80 and the trifecta (5-7-12) was worth $53.20 for $1.