The Lumber Guy, who set the pace in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) before faltering, enjoyed the cutback to a mile in the $200,000 Jerome (gr. II) (VIDEO), as he fended off pressure all the way around the track to score by 2 3/4 lengths April 21 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Making just the fourth start of his career, Barry Schwartz’s The Lumber Guy was ridden to victory by Mike Luzzi for trainer Michael Hushion. The 3-year-old son of Grand Slam covered the distance on the fast main track in 1:36.04.
The Lumber Guy was bred in New York by Stonewall Farm and is out of the Unbridled's Song mare Boltono. All four of his starts have come this year, with three of them resulting in victories. He increased his earnings to $225,000.
After giving way in the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial on April 7, a one-turn mile was just what the doctor ordered for the gray/roan colt. He earned it too, as he was pressured the whole way by Brigand through quick fractions of :22.98, :45.83, and 1:10.08. With Corey Nakatani aboard, Brigand was right to the outside of the pacesetter throughout, with the rest of the field well back of them.
When they came off the final turn The Lumber Guy still held a narrow advantage over Brigand and those two dueled through the stretch in what was a two-horse race throughout. It wasn’t until inside the final sixteenth that The Lumber Guy inched away for the determined win.
Brigand was three lengths in front of third-place Stirred Up, the 2-1 favorite in the field of six sophomores. Bob Baffert trains both Brigand and Stirred Up.
Prior to the Wood The Lumber Guy won both of his starts. He broke his maiden by 9 1/4 lengths Jan. 28 in his debut at Aqueduct and then won the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Feb. 25. Luzzi was riding him for the first time.
“That was cool. Not knowing the horse and just going by what Michael had said, he’s real fast," Luzzi said. "I didn’t want to warm him up too much to where he was too speedy. He left clean, he was in my hands. It felt slower than it was, honestly. It wasn’t out-of-control speed.
"He’s just a talented horse. I know the fractions might have said differently, but to me it felt like we went slower and it felt like I still had a lot left. He galloped out good too."
The winner paid $6.50, $4.10, and $2.50. The exacta (1-2) returned $42.40 and the trifecta (1-2-3) was worth $71.50.
"I guess that 36 flat (1:36.04) is going to come up a nice time," Hushion said. "Getting to the two-turn thing is a bridge we’re going to have to cross sometime pretty soon. Today, he showed what we were hoping he would show. When he got his head in front his stride just opened up. His stride looked awfully good down the backside. He’s a nice, big mover. Mike did a nice job nursing his speed. Really good job.”