Even-money choice Cost of Freedom rushed to the lead for jockey Joe Talamo and never looked back in taking the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) by 1 3/4 lengths in the Thanksgiving Day feature at Hollywood Park Nov. 25.
The grade I-winning 7-year-old son of Cee's Tizzy has put together back-to-back stakes victories at Hollywood for trainer John Sadler and owners Gary and Cecil Barber. He won the California Cup Sprint by 6 1/4 lengths Oct. 30.
Cost of Freedom broke a step slowly and was brushed at the start before moving up between horses to get the lead. He opened up by two lengths over second choice E Z's Gentleman and Square Deal while clicking off sizzling quarter-mile splits of :21.95 and :44.19.
The favorite kicked away leaving the turn and was in front by 3 1/2 lengths mid-stretch. Gato Go Win, rallying on the outside for Rafael Bejarano at odds of 17-1, came on for second but could not threaten Cost of Freedom, who finished gamely under urging in a sharp time of 1:08.46, the fastest of the meet for six furlongs.
"He always kind of breaks a step slow, but he's so classy he gathers himself right back up and you just have to steer him in the right direction," Talamo said. "He did the same thing in the Cal Cup, that's just how he is. He's so fast, he just takes it to 'em. He relaxes so nice you don't even have to grab him. He's just a pleasure to ride."
Gato Go Win was a clear second by 3 3/4 lengths over Scenic Blast and Victor Espinoza, who nosed Canonize for the third spot. Square Deal and E Z's Gentleman trailed.
Bred in California by Harris Farms, Cost of Freedom is out of Freedom Dance, by Moscow Ballet. The victory was the dark bay gelding's 10th in 20 lifetime starts and boosted his earnings to $812,263. He has won four of seven in 2010.
Carrying top weight of 126 pounds, Cost of Freedom paid $4, $3, and $2.40 and keyed a $56.40 exacta. Gato Go Win, the longest shot in the field for trainer Robert Troeger, returned $8.80 and $4.40. Scenic Blast was $3.40 to show.
"This is one of his better tracks," said Sadler, who won his third Underwood. "He's always run well here. What's nice is that we've had him long enough that he feels like family, so it's a good time to win on Thanksgiving. I was a little concerned carrying high weight and he's an older horse, but he does so well on this track."
Cost of Freedom, who was claimed for $50,000 by Sadler for the Barber brothers at Del Mar in July 2008, has won four of eight starts on Hollywood's Cushion Track. Victorious in the 2008 Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I), he has won six of 12 since the claim while earning $661,247.