Barry Schwartz's homebred The Lumber Guy showed no signs of rust while returning from a 4 1/2-month layoff in Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 Vosburgh Stakes, holding the fast-closing Caixa Eletronica safe in the latter stages for a 1 1/4-length score. He completed six furlongs in 1:09 1/5 on the "good" track at Belmont Park.
Winner of the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes at a mile two starts previously, the Michael Hushion-trained colt earned an automatic berth to the November 3 Breeders' Cup Sprint and will be heading to Santa Anita for his next start, but Schwartz was not ready to confirm his three-year-old to the shorter race.
"It's just a question of which one, the Sprint or the (Dirt) Mile," Schwartz said. "I'm kind of inclined to think he's a miler."
Poseidon's Warrior showed speed at the start from his rail post, dueling through early fractions of :22 2/5 and :45 with Little Drama, who broke to the immediate outside. The Lumber Guy was hustled into contention from post 5 by jockey John Velazquez and closely stalked the front runners in the three path as they entered the far turn.
The Lumber Guy advanced while entering the stretch, hooking up in a three-horse battle as Poseidon's Warrior and Little Drama valiantly tried to prove best, but they were no match in the final sixteenth of a mile as The Lumber Guy began to assert his authority. Caixa Eletronica rallied dramatically from far back to threaten late, but The Lumber Guy dug in stubbornly to repel his challenger.
Favored at 2-1 with Grade 1-winning entrymate Sean Avery, The Lumber Guy paid $6.20, $3.70 and $2.90 to his supporters. Caixa Eletronica wound up nearly two lengths clear in second at 8-1, and Poseidon's Warrior held third by a half-length over Little Drama. Sean Avery checked in fifth and was followed by Justin Phillip, Fort Loudon, Zero Rate Policy and Rothko. Royal Currier acted up in the starting gate and was scratched.
"It was pretty simple," Velazquez said of his game plan. "Mike (Hushion) told me 'He's quick, make sure you get him out of there running, and if he's taking you, leave him alone.' He thought he was going to finish for me, and he did."
"This is always a good time of year for three-year-olds," Hushion added. They've gone through that maturing. I like three-year-olds vs. older horses this time of year. I've been telling Barry for the past five weeks that he's been working like the real deal."
The Lumber Guy captured his career debut in late January, taking a maiden special weight at Aqueduct by 9 1/4 lengths, and the gray followed it with a 4 1/4-length triumph in the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park. He suffered his first setback when stretching out to nine furlongs in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, checking in fifth, and rebounded with a 2 3/4-length score in the April 21. The New York-bred headed to the sidelines following a sixth in the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan on May 12, returning off a 140-day layoff on Saturday, and he's now earned $465,800 from a 6-4-0-0 ledger.
"We know he's got a good mile in him from the Jerome," Hushion said of which race The Lumber Guy will run in next. "Time will tell. I don't think we'll be doing any jumping to a mile and an eighth from here."
The Lumber Guy is out of the unraced Unbridled's Song mare Boltono, making him a half-brother to stakes winners Magical Solution and Bold Deed. Boltono is herself a daughter of multiple Grade 3-placed stakes queen Buckaroo Zoo. The Lumber Guy's fourth dam is the multiple stakes-scoring Big Spruce mare Joy Returned, who is most noted for producing multiple Grade 3-winning sire Stalwars, Group 2-placed multiple stakes victor Joy of Glory and the dam of Group 3 star Tough Speed.