WinStar Farm's homebred Hold Me Back overcame a poor break to win the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) at Turfway Park in his first start of 2009 for trainer Bill Mott March 21.
The 9-1 shot, ridden to victory by Kent Desormeaux, swept past the even more surprising Flying Private in mid-stretch to win by 1 3/4 lengths in the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack test for 3-year-olds. The final time was 1:49.63
Flying Private, at 24-1,was a clear second by four lengths over third-place finisher Proceed Bee, who edged Parade Clown by a half-length for the show spot.
Hold Me Back, a son of Giant's Causeway , paid $20.20, $9.40, and $7.40 for the win and topped a $2 exacta worth a whopping $586.80.
The two favorites in the 12-horse field, West Side Bernie (the slight 2-1 choice) and Bittel Road (also 2-1), finished sixth and 10th, respectively.
Hold Me Back won the first two races of his career as a 2-year-old on synthetic tracks, but ran fifth of seven in Aqueduct's 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (gr. II) on Nov 29, his last start. He finished 14 lengths behind the victorious Old Fashioned in the Remsen, his only try on dirt.
The victory gives Hold Me Back $282,000 in graded stakes earnings.
“This was a $500,000 race, and it gave us graded earning if we want to dream big, and we’re dreaming big," said Doug Cauthen, president of WinStar Farm.
“He’s really strengthened and matured since last year. Kent rode a great race. He has that long stride and just kept going. The credit really goes to Bill (Mott) and the horse. We are very fortunate to have Bill and (vice president) Elliott Walden plotting his course.
“He’s named after (owner) Kenny Trout. He’s always saying ‘Hold me back’ if you’re joking with him. We’ve had a lot of luck with horses named for people in our organization like Colonel John and Sharp Susan.”
Hold Me Back, slow into stride, started last in the field from the rail but came five wide on the far turn with a big move to reach contention a furlong from home. Proceed Bee had gained a slender advantage in the homestretch under Rodney Prescott, but could not hold off Flying Private and Israel Ocampo, who took a short lead in the last furlong. Hold Me Back caught Flying Private near the sixteenth pole and drew off in the final strides.
Othodox set the pace -- :23.71, :47.84 and 1:12.43 -- and held on until the stretch run before fading quickly. Desormeaux said Hold Me Back had "a fearful start."
“I thought I was hopelessly beaten the second the doors opened," Desormeaux said. "He just stood there and it worked out really well in the end because closers perform so much better on (Polytrack). I had the favorite in my sights and I thought he looked like he wasn’t handling the going today."
Bred in Kentucky in partnership with Haras Santa Maria de Araras SA, Hold Me Back sold for $400,000 at Keeneland as a yearling in 2007. The dark bay colt is out of Restraint, by Unbridled's Song.
“The Derby is definitely our plan, but we’ll let the horse and Bill tell us if that is the right place," Walden said. "Our goal is the Derby every year.
“He had won two races last year as a 2-year-old, so there weren’t many allowance races that were going to fill for him at Gulfstream. One option was the Fountain of Youth (gr. II), but we didn’t think the one-turn mile was the right place," Walden added. “He’s three for three on the synthetics, so that’s why we thought of this race to bring him back. He just didn’t show up in his last race in the Remsen. He was all legs and bones. I think he’s probably put on 150 pounds since then. He’s a bigger horse and running with a purpose now."
Flying Private, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, was coming off a close runner-up finish in the six-furlong Mountain Valley Stakes at Oaklawn Park Feb. 28, his stakes debut. The quickly improving Fusaichi Pegasus colt returned $22.60 and $11.20. Proceed Bee, winner of the 1 1/16-mile John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Feb. 28, was $9.60 to show.
Parade Clown was followed by Jack Spratt, West Side Bernie, Bruce N Autumn, A.P. Cardinal, Loch Dubh, Bittle Road, Orthodox and Dynamite Bob.
Trainer Kelly Breen said he's not sure why West Side Bernie failed to respond.
"It seemed like—we tried to push him a little bit early, (because of the way speed was playing) and the jockey (Edgar Prado) said he sort of resented it," Breen said. "We’ll put our heads together and see what we’re going to do.”
One race earlier, Cliffy’s Future came from dead last to win the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes for 3-year-olds by 2 1/2 widening lengths over Ziegfeld. Toccet Rocket was a head farther back in third. Cliffy’s Future is owned by Silverton Hill and trained by Darrin Miller, the same connections who sent out Dominican to win the 2007 Rushaway.
It was the first stakes win for Cliffy’s Future, who ran a sluggish eighth last time out in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 14. That was his first start for Silverton Hill after a private purchase. Prior to that Tampa effort, he had been risked for a $75,000 claiming tag twice in races at Aqueduct over the winter.
Ridden by jockey Jesus Castanon, the 3-year-old colt by The Cliffs Edge raced at the back of the pack early, then swung wide turning for home and drove past the early leaders under a steady drive. Final time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:44.38.
Sent off as the fifth choice in the field of eight, Cliffy’s Future paid $16.40, $6.80, and $5.00.
The order of finish in the Rushaway: Cliffy’s Future, Ziegfeld, Toccet Rocket, Sundays Baby Grand, No Inflation, Fitzaslew, Summer’s Empire and Ninth Client.