Maryland shipper London Lane, ignored at odds of 50-1, charged from the rear down the center of the track to land the $300,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) in a shocker June 22 at Virginia's Colonial Downs (VIDEO).
Howard M. Bender's 6-year-old homebred registered his first stakes win, edging Hyper by three-quarters of a length under Horacio Karamanos for trainer Lawrence Murray. Front-running Swift Warrior was a head back in third. Final time for the 1 3/16-mile distance was 1:55.94 over firm turf.
Atigun, the 3-2 favorite in the field of eight, was never a factor and finished seventh. Air Support, a Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) winner who was second in last year's Colonial Turf Cup, similarly failed to menace as the 5-2 second choice, running sixth.
London Lane was easily overlooked. The Langfuhr gelding was coming off a slow-closing sixth at 27-1 in his only start of the year, a one-mile allowance heat April 28 over the Pimlico Race Course grass. He had just one win from his past 11 starts over the past two years, that coming in an allowance/optional claiming heat on the Delaware Park turf last July 4. But he had shown a fondness for a distance of ground, leading in the stretch of the 1 1/2-mile Laurel Turf Cup last October before tiring.
"He ran very, very good today. I was very confident," said Karamanos, currently the leading jockey at Colonial Downs with nine wins.
The Maryland-bred London Lane paid $102.60, $24.40, and $8.60. He topped an eye-popping $660 exacta with Hyper, who returned $7.20 and $4.20 with Jose Lezcano aboard. Swift Warrior, ridden by Jose Espinoza, paid $4.40 to show. A 50-cent trifecta was worth $1,129.05, while the dime superfecta with General Logan fourth returned $517.95.
"It's tough to be confident at 50-1," said Murray, "but the horse was doing really well. There are very few opportunities to run this distance. I also had the opportunity to get Karamanos, so we decided to come down for the day."
London Lane settled at the back of a fairly compact group in the early going as Swift Warrior along the inside and Two Notch Road engaged for the lead with with Roadhog, Air Support, and Atigun, who was racing at the rail, in stalking position.
Swift Warrior led the opening quarter mile in :24.57, which wasn't quick enough for Two Notch Road, who forged a narrow advantage as they negotiated a half mile in :49.04. Swift Warrior was back in front after six furlongs in 1:12.83 and began to inch away from his pace rival leaving the turn to take command.
Hyper, using the overland route for Lezcano, appeared to be the danger in the homestretch as he drew closer to Swift Warrior, who led by 3 1/2 lengths mid-stretch before he began to weaken. But London Lane, under a drive by Karamanos from seventh, roared into contention on the outside of Hyper to get the advantage in the closing stages.
Hyper, who could not keep pace in the final strides, nipped Swift Warrior for the place, with General Logan two lengths farther back in fourth. Then came Roadhog, Air Support, Atigun, and Two Notch Road.
London Lane, who was co-bred by Sondra Bender out of the unraced Miswaki mare Travelling, won for the fifth time in 22 starts and more than doubled his career earnings to $322,270. Four of his victories have come on the turf.
"The horse always tries," said his trainer, Murray. "It may not always show in the final results, but he never gives up and tonight's race proved that. I'm not completely surprised by the win."