Keeneland Race Report: Solid Gamble

Published in the May 4 issue of The Blood-Horse
Trainer Todd Pletcher calls Proper Gamble "a hundredpercenter." She needed all 100%, plus some, in winning the $250,000 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) as Keeneland closed out its 16-day spring meeting on April 26.

"I was worried a bit," said Pletcher, who conditions the winner for James Stone's Stoneway Farm. "But I knew she would dig down. That's her M.O."

Dig down she did. After dueling with 6-5 favorite Bold World for the first half-mile through fractions of :22.12 and :44.78, Proper Gamble, under jockey Javier Castellano, held off a late rally from California invader Respectful to win by a nose. Vicki Vallencourt made up serious late ground after being next to last in the early going to finish third. The final running time for the seven-furlong, 184-foot stakes event was 1:28.79.

"She really picked it up in the stretch," said Castellano. "When she saw that other filly coming, she went hard. I have a lot of confidence in this filly."

The Beaumont was the third consecutive stakes win for Proper Gamble, who bagged the Feb. 16 Dearly Precious and followed that with a 2 3/4-length win in the March 23 Cicada Stakes (gr. III). Both races were at Aqueduct.

Pletcher said Proper Gamble would be pointed toward the one-mile Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park on June 7. The Acorn will be Proper Gamble's first attempt at the distance. "I don't know how far she wants to run yet, but we'll see."

THE SWEETEST THING

Trainer and part owner Roger Attfield let out a sigh of relief after his Sweetest Thing crossed the wire 3 1/2 lengths in front of Lapuma to win the $110,700 Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) on April 25.

"Finally she's doing what she should be doing," said Attfield, who owns Sweetest Thing with partners Michael Canino and William Werner.

Sweetest Thing, the 2-1 favorite, lagged far behind early in the race before catching Lapuma in midstretch and eventually pulling away. Lady Upstage was three lengths farther back in third. Tweedside finished fourth.

The final running time of the 1 1/2-mile turf event was 2:31.97.

In her two previous starts this year, Sweetest Thing finished third, 7 1/2 lengths behind Moon Queen in the Feb. 17 The Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT) and was a neck behind winner Julie Jalouse in the March 24 Orchid Handicap (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park.

"We just hoped she would settle early and make a late run as opposed to making the lead turning for home," Attfield said.

Sweetest Thing was in eighth place under jockey Mark Guidry as the field passed the stands for the first time. Guidry angled her to the middle of the course in the stretch. "She relaxed really well today," Guidry said. "There was a nice little pace going and I had tons of horse turning for home."

LOVE AT KEENELAND

John Glenney, husband of owner/breeder Kim Glenney and trainer of Kim Loves Bucky, loves both his wife and his 5-year-old gelding "Bucky," but he's the first to insist he's not Bucky. In fact, he has a hat which reads, "I'm Not Bucky" so he will not be confused as the namesake of their homebred.

But after Kim Loves Bucky's two-length win in the April 24 $110,000 Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIIT), John Glenney doesn't mind what you call him--he's now the trainer of a graded stakes winner. "This is the greatest feeling," Kim Glenney said after the race. "I'm so excited I don't know what to do. Bucky's always been a very special horse to us and he's all heart and he showed it today."

Kim Loves Bucky covered 12 furlongs of Keeneland turf in 2:32.49. Rochester rallied for second under Pat Day, with favored Cetewayo finishing third.

Kim Glenney named Kim Loves Bucky due to his love of "bucking" in his stall as a youngster. John Glenney gave his wife the gelding as a birthday present and let her choose his name.

At the Wire
It's a Giggle caught Al Skywalker with less than a sixteenth of a mile remaining to win the $169,958 Royal Chase for the Sport of Kings (NSA-I). Two lengths separated the first two finishers at the wire. It was 22 1/4 lengths back to Flat Top, who was making his first official start since winning the Royal Chase two years ago.

(Chart, Equibase)

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